Barclays Bank of Botswana Limited employees are planning an assault on their new managing director that, if not properly handled, could ultimately lead to his early exit at the helm of the country’s biggest commercial bank.
The new managing director, Wilfred Mpai, has been at the helm of the bank for only three months after he took over from Thulisizwe Johnson initially on an acting capacity until his appointment to the plum post at the beginning of June.
Since his ascendance to the helm, Mpai has had no peace due to indefinite running battles with his subordinates over their working conditions.
He, in fact, inherited a mess that bank insiders say he had always been part of.
As junior employees threaten to go on a nationwide strike if management fails to heed their calls for improved salaries and working conditions, senior managers in the bank are already scheming in the same direction.
“Once the junior staff go on strike, we will definitely join them. What concerns them also concerns us. The bank’s executive management should change tactic and address the plight of the employees.
Their arrogance will not help them in any way. We are equally disgruntled and as such we will not let the kids fight our battle while we stand by and watch. The executive management has to know that. Their arrogance in handling staff grievances will not take them anywhere. Otherwise heads will have to roll at the top,” stressed one senior manager who says they are in constant contact with junior staff as well as their union ÔÇô the Botswana Bank Employees Union.
“The executive management should brace itself for a full throttle strike akin to the December 1988 strike. It is time that when employees raise concerns and grievances, they are listened to. The time for arrogance is over. Mpai should know better. Our grievances are not new and he has been part of the executive for some time so he cannot claim to be unaware of the grievances. The tendency for the bank to rake in millions of Pula in profit while the employees continue to toil in poverty has to come to an end. Enough is enough. This time around executive management has to come to the party and do what is right for us,” said another manager.
The manager emphasized that the fact that they lost their recognition bid at the Court of Appeal does not mean that they have to be treated as some piece of cheap labour and people without bargaining power.
“If it was not for our hard work the bank would not be swimming in a pool of millions in profits that they rake in year in and year out. We are tired of the arrogant management that is not prepared to listen to us. The last managing director who took employees’ grievances seriously is the late Duncan Mlazie. It is irrefutable that it was during his tenure that he lobbied for the implementation of the 100 percent funded employees medical aid scheme. Since then our pleas are just falling on deaf ears,” said the manager who has been with the bank for the past 15 years.
However, the managers said they have been asking their juniors to find a way of engaging the board of directors which might not be aware of their problems.
“At times it is prudent that we all engage the board of directors with a view that they intervene and mediate. The board of directors represents the interests of the shareholders and, as such, would not want to see the name of the bank going through the mud. They may pump some sense into management and it is in that respect that we ought to bring them on board,” said another manager who is worried that any strike action would impact negatively on the bank’s customers and its profitability.
It just remains to be seen how the executive management will handle the looming strike action and possibly avert it.