RETIRED former employees of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) from Baguio and Benguet, as well as other branches of the bank nationwide, held protests on Tuesday in front of the PNB branches in various cities nationwide over years of unpaid benefits and pensions from the bank.
On Session Road on Tuesday morning, a group of former PNB employees brandished placards, demanding that the bank, with over a century of operation and a significant national presence, fulfill its obligations to pay their dues.
Retirees allege that the PNB is employing delaying tactics in complying with court decisions regarding the payment of the employees’ Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and Special Amelioration Allowance (SAA).
The protests specifically target unreleased back pay from COLA and SAA for employees from 1989 to 1996. This issue led to a class-action suit by 75 PNB employees, resulting in a regional trial court (RTC) order to pay in 2010. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2016 and the Supreme Court’s Third Division in May of this year.
An anonymous former official mentioned that the protest was strategically timed to coincide with the resumption of activity in Congress. The 8,500 PNB retirees nationwide are advocating for legislation providing PNB workers with lifetime pensions, akin to government workers.
Despite its privatization in 1989, PNB has roots as a state-owned bank since its establishment in 1916.
Protesters also allege illegal deductions of Government Service Insurance Service (GSIS) gratuity pay from their separation or retirement pay. They claim that PNB paid separation or retirement pay based on their basic salaries before the privatization instead of their higher basic salaries right before retirement.
The RTC decision from 2010 directed PNB to pay petitioners and former/incumbent employees and officers their back pay for COLA and SAA, covering the period from July 1, 1989, to May 26, 1996, or up to their separation from service, whichever comes first.
PNB’s appeals to nullify the RTC ruling, affirmed by the CA, or remand the case to the RTC were both denied by the high court.