The Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) has defended its position on why they subsequently suspended their industrial strike that was initially scheduled to kick off sometime in December last year.
The union says they have now reached a deadlock and plans are now underway to prepare for an industrial strike next month.
The Deputy General Secretary of BOBEU, Tshepo Lekote, told the Sunday Standard that, “Our planned industrial strike did not take place in December last year because Barclays approached us and we discussed and we agreed that both parties will resume talks after the festive season.”
He added: “We then as the union decided to suspend the strike in the hope that we would reach common ground.”
Lekote said that on the 12th of this month, the union then met with the employer as agreed in the last meeting but to their surprise, the employer told them that “it is a closed chapter”, which resulted in a deadlock.
He said the bank is not willing to change its stance but decided to continue with the retrenchment exercise without involving the union.
“Now we have reached a deadlock and we are in a cooling off period which takes about thirty days and both parties will seek mediation from the Labour Commissioner but if that fails, then our strike, which is now scheduled for next month, will go ahead,” said Lekote.
He said they had already tendered their complaints to the Uni Global Union based in London to which they are affiliated and who promised that they would take the matter up.
“I want to make it clear that we want our strike to be legal as we have already said before,” he said.
Lekote still maintained that as the union they want the General Manager of Barclays to resign and they will push hard to ensure that he does.
He added that the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is on their side.
Esther Norris, the Head of Corporate Affairs, confirmed that “Barclays Bank Botswana met with the Botswana Bank Employees Union on the 12th January, 2012 in another of several consultative meetings that the bank has had with the union”.
“We think it would be inappropriate to negotiate with our important stakeholders, including the union, through the media, which will undermine the integrity of these engagements”.
Norris was very reluctant to respond to most of the questions that were directed at her.