Barclays bank is currently under investigation following a petition that was recently handed to the company’s managing director, Thuli Johnson, by the Botswana Bank employees union (BOBEU) on behalf of Barclays Bank employees.
On 23rd October 2009, demonstrations against Barclays Bank practices were held by BOBEU members in key cities and towns of Gaborone, Francistown, and Selebi Phikwe.
Before that, salary negotiations between the union and management had been recently announced, by Johnson, to be deadlocked after months of several meetings at which both parties failed to meet each other half-way.
Sunday Standard has in its possession a letter dated 30th October 2009, addressed to the chairman of BOBEU, Jackson Chakalisa, in which Johnson accused BOBEU of publicizing its dissatisfaction over salaries of its members. He asserted that the fact that the union breached the terms of collective labour agreement and refused to disclose their issues and concerns to management had left them no choice but to consider negotiations deadlocked
“I am informed that there were demonstrations organized by yourselves and your members in Gaborone, Francistown and Selebi Phikwe on the 23rd of October, 2009.The demonstrations involved interviews with the media, disclosure of the offer made to the union by Barclays and grievances against the bank in breach of the dispute resolution procedures as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement between the parties,” wrote Johnson.
Another letter by Johnson but addressed to the commissioner of Labour on October 30th called for urgent appointment of a mediator for the issue and asked for it to be treated as a matter of extreme urgency.
“Notwithstanding the dispute resolution process set out in the collective labour agreement, BOBEU and their members on the 23rd October 2009 went ahead and held a demonstration before exhausting all the dispute resolution procedures in breach of the agreement that regulates the relationship between the parties,” said Johnson.
The petition, which was written on the 23rd, of October, the day of the demonstrations, was acknowledged and received on the 6th of November.
“Many policies are forced on employees and attestations are forced on staff before proper consultation and negotiation is done with the union on many if not all bank policies,” wrote the BOBEU chairman.
The petition raises the concerns of the workers in issues of the disadvantages of shortage of staff to remaining staff, no pay for overtime, return to work form, whistle blowing, unfair labour practices, bogus bonus payments, increasing staff pension, flawed disciplinary procedures, inconsistent applications of allowances, changes of IT staff allowances and working hours, review of entry points, salary increases for the year 2008/2009, problems caused by proposed changes in contracts and developmental roles, amongst others.
In the petition, BOBEU accuses management of staff exploitation under its developmental roles because they believe the bank is saving money at the expense of employees under the pretext of development.
“We are also of the view that the business is using disciplinary process to retrench. The 2008/2009 era has seen a high number of dismissal cases as a deliberate ploy by the business to cut costs and avoid paying employees terminal benefits,” wrote Chakalisa.
Another area of concern in the petition was the union calling for the dismissals of J Graham, Rob Moon, David Hardist and Marcia Purcell, calling them costly expatriates who sit on country management committees and are just figure heads.
BOBEU further alleges that the local centre managers are the ones who are doing the key roles and core duty objectives while the above mentioned figures don’t respect locals and treat employees with attitudes and disrespect employee rights at the work place.
“These expatriates are costly for the business and are not adding any value to the business. They are being overpaid exorbitant salaries and benefits and are proponents or behind many unlawful practices, termination of employees, wrong disciplinary issue, oppressing operation procedures all under the pretext of cost saving and also performance with unrealistic targets,” wrote Chakalisa.
Meanwhile Johnson promised to take the matter seriously, as they are already investigating the issues mentioned, “after which a meeting will be convened where we will provide feedback to you, “wrote Johnson.