Bank blunder

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The Royal Bank is getting a public knocking for laying off a group of 45 or so IT workers — most in their 50s or early 60s, apparently — and replacing them (through a subcontractor) with foreign workers. The federal government, staunch supporters of loosening the rules around foreign workers, are also getting caught in the crossfire.

What the bank doesn’t realize, though, is that it’s a bigger mistake than simply a question of dumping long-term employees to replace them with foreign workers — although that is not popular for a bank that posts profits so high they are barely comprehensible (and is also telling customers this week that its fees on things like Interac withdrawals are going to increase by 33 per cent on June 1).

No, the bigger problem is that mid-sized and bigger companies already suffer from the fact that, to promote efficiency, IT support has been ever-more

centralized and formalized. RBC apparently doesn’t understand the suffering that comes with this process and sees only the bottom line.

The issue?

When you move your IT people away, you can no longer bribe them to solve quick problems with chocolate muffins or a cold can of Pepsi. No, you have to fill out a Form 3492346XT Trouble Ticket and email it to an address that you’re not even sure is monitored on a regular basis.

If you’re pressed for time, you can try to call the emergency trouble line to speed things up, but they will request the unique ticket number that’s been applied to your Trouble Ticket, a number that should have been emailed back to you automatically when you filed your Form 3492346XT — unless, of course, it’s your email that happens to be broken. Then, you’re SOL. (That’s apparently an IT term, much like CAD-CAM and XT and MS-DOS. You’re not supposed to know what that means, outside the fraternity.)

That’s not the only problem.

What is the single-most difficult thing you can do in the world of human communication? Simple — fix a computer problem long-distance.

Does this phone call sound in any way familiar?

“Hi, honey, my email’s not working.”

“Did you check the router?”

“Which one’s that?”

“The one with the flashing lights.”

“Which one with the flashing lights?”

You can’t even imagine the brain-twisting imminent peril that accompanies the words “Kenny’s favourite game won’t run…”

But you get the point.

See, even if your IT people work right in the building with you, the chances are their desks are empty, and they’re in that high-stakes poker club known as “the server room.” No one outside of IT knows what happens in there, but it has a keypad lock that only IT knows the code for — and it changes every Thursday. It’s like an electronic secret handshake.

It’s harder still if your IT people are somewhere else in Canada — unless they’re using that remote desktop thing to move things around on your computer screen, so that it looks possessed as they finger their way through your email and your stash of vacation pictures.

Imagine how hard it will be when they’re a continent away. Are they even in the building? Of course they are. They’re logged on, aren’t they? They’re just busy …

Organizations: RBC

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • No No
    April 11, 2013 - 22:35

    Wild Rose, have you looked at RBC profits? Like the other banks, every year they report record profits. Management is getting millions, of your money. Now they replace staff to make more money. Fewer jobs here means less money spent here and that means fewer jobs again. I guess that's ok as long as RBC can make record profits. Do you work for RBC??

  • Wild Rose you espoused dangerous Ideological and Philosophical Thinking in your commentary.
    April 11, 2013 - 10:57

    Wild Rose, I hope you are not a politician or the head of a Corporation, if so, the ideology you espoused in your commentary will completely turn Canada into a Third World County. We have already had 30 plus years of your type of Ideological and Philosophical Thinking imposed upon our social and economic systems and at the moment Canada is considerably lagging when compared to countries that it once surpassed in every aspect. Just yesterday a report was released that ranked Canada 17th out of 29 wealthy countries in child well being index by UNICEF. We have lost so many jobs to "Outsourcing" over the past 30th plus years, what else can we expect?

  • Wild Rose
    April 11, 2013 - 10:14

    Get a life. These employees wouldn't be out of work if they wern't so greedy. The banks like any other business are thier to make a PROFIT not owe these people a living. If they have to cut costs to make a profit for there shareholders so be it. We have to many unions and to high taxes to many enviromentalists and to many people who are to lzay to work.

  • The only entity that benefits from "Outsourcing" is the Corporation, the Country involved becomes poorer.
    April 11, 2013 - 09:05

    The only entities that benefits from "Outsourcing" are the Corporations and the enablers, the Politicians who arranged and allowed this bad decision or is it corruption to occur in the first place. Of course, the Country or the Province involved becomes poorer. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has experienced the malaise of having no appreciable economy that boasts,jobs, good infrastructure and services, because every one of our natural resources that has been developed thus far has been shipped off to some other province, for that province to create a vibrant economy with jobs and significant profit and all the goodies that go with it. We have watched our sister provinces growing vibrant economies from our Fish, Iron Ore, Hydro-electric Energy, Nickel Ore, Oil, etc., etc. ever since Ottawa got of OUR country into its fold, by hook or by crook. Yes "Outsourcing," of our Natural and Human Resources, has been occurring here ever since we inhabited this place, first by England and then by Canada. We can only blame our bad decision making or is it corrupt politicians for that? But, now, since the elite part of Canada, Ontario, which has benefited greatly from Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources are singing out loud and clear against "Outsourcing", isn't it time that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians jumped on board and explained to the rest of Canada that this is not a phenomenon at all to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, since we have been suffering from that sickness for 500 plus years. Come on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the time to Act is Now, certainly God Canadians will understand after experiencing the same sickness we have been suffering from for 500 plus years, they will understand!

  • Politically Incorrect
    April 11, 2013 - 07:16

    I thought this editorial would address the rapidly increasing use of cheap, outside labour to replace workers, whether it be RBC or Labats; or how the RBC knowlingly tried to mislead us by denying that they had done so; or how the Tories spent billions of public dollars to bail the banks out and have loosened the regulations to allow 300,000 foreign temporary workers to put a downward pressure on wages; or perhaps the need for the banking sector to organise... but you had to go with having to use the phone to contact IT !?!