Employees of the Bank of Baroda have been refunded money which they were made to pay as security deposit before being employed, following a story reported exclusively by The Sunday Standard last week.
Sunday Standard revealed that employees of the Bank were made to pay P1500 “security deposit” into an account opened for them by their employer before their employment could be confirmed.
“The issue of security deposit has been resolved; we have been advised that the practice is not lawful and it was accordingly decided that all the workers whose money had been taken that way be refunded,” Ramprakash Gupta, BOB Chief Manager, said in an interview with The Sunday Standard, this week.
“Not only is this an indication of how casually employers generally, and in this country, in particular, regard their employees,” said Keitshokile Basuti, General Secretary of the Botswana Banks Employees Union (BOBEU). “It also shows the extent of desperation on the part of workers as a result of this treatment.”
In addition, Basuti intimated, “We only learnt through the media of the P1500 security deposit issue, but we never received any complaint in that regard from anyone of our members, nor from any other bank for that matter.”
Basuti added that following this startling revelation, and other issues which their members brought to the Unions attention, perhaps prompted by the media report, BOBEU has decided it will seek audience with Baroda’s Management.
He said one complaint they had already received involves two employees who wanted to resign, but the Bank refused to release them on the basis that they owed some money in the form of outstanding loan payments. He said this adds to the list of unprocedural terms and conditions of work, which include ambiguity where it suits the employer.
“We believe that as is the practice, generally, employees should be granted latitude, provided that they make a definite arrangement with their employer as to how they propose to settle the balance of their remaining debts without having to be blackmailed.”
He further stated that there are always legal options to explore in the event that obligations are not met.
Alternatively, it must be categorically featured in the agreement of employment how the employer prefers it so that whatever arrangement finally sees the light would be mutual.
Regarding localization, the Union official admitted that they took a little longer to submit their response to the Management’s draft policy on localization. He said that was partly because the way the document was structured was not helpful, especially in terms of providing sufficient information for an in-depth dialogue.
To this Gupta replied, “They have expressed their views, they are being examined and the Bank will in due course come up with a revised policy document which will be subject to bilateral consensus. Basuti also dismissed the banks explanation that by engaging employees on unspecified job title, they mean to produce an all ÔÇôrounded banker, adding that there is no way that can be genuinely done without a clear cut structure of how that is intended to be done, in which case it must also be in black and white.
Even if such a programme should be initiated, it must provide for candidates to acquire certain specified qualifications and skills required to be elevated to higher positions; any other way won’t work, Basuti maintained.
Gupta said that they are in the process of formulating a promotion programme in addition to the current practice of “producing an all rounded banker.”
“It should be noted that our growth as a bank depends largely on our complying with local laws, so there can be any reason why we would want to disregard Botswana laws deliberately.
In conclusion, Basuti said, “There is generally lack of appreciation of labour relations conformity and recognition of statutory requirements by employers, nothing is done to keep abreast with new developments in these areas by employers because most of them have no plans to invest their resources, nor skills on these areas, they just stumble on them”