As the Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) gears up for a strike that is scheduled to start sometime this month, the union has now mounted pressure on Wilfred Mpai, the Managing Director of Barclays Bank Botswana, saying that for the strike to be suspended or called off, Mpai must resign.
On the other hand, the bank appears to be preparing for the strike.
The two warring parties were supposed to meet last week on Tuesday but the meeting collapsed.
“The preparations for our massive strike is on course,” Tshepo Lekote, the Deputy Secretary General of BOBEU, told the Sunday Standard.
He said the union is busy mobilizing its people on the ground but had not set the exact date when the strike will kick off, adding that in few days to come, they will be telling the people when the strike action will commence and when it will end.
“The only way that the strike can be called off or suspended is if the Managing Director of Barclays Bank resigns and that is the mood that we have got from the members,” Lekote said, adding that the union also supports the resignation of the MD.
He argued that, as the union, they are not being personal in singling out Mpai but it is because of the style of management which he said is hostile to the employees.
Lekote said currently the union is being castigated by the bank for speaking to the press about the intended strike action that the union is preparing for.
“Last week on Tuesday, both the bank and the union were scheduled to have a meeting but, unfortunately, the meeting was called off when the bank expressed discomfort with the inclusion in the negotiating team of our Secretary General, Keitshokile Basuti.”
Lekote said that they argued for sometime as the bank was seeking clarity on whether the BOBEU Secretary General could attend the meetings or not.
“What is most disturbing is the fact that our employees are being threatened with dismissal if they go on strike,” said Lekote. “This is uncalled for.”
However, the bank spokesperson, Sakaiyo Baitshepi, said that “it would be unfortunate if our employees go on strike”.
“The union has not yet informed us officially that they are planning to embark on a strike,” said Baitshepi.
When asked to what extent the bank is prepared for the looming strike, he said, “The bank will ensure that daily operations will run smoothly without causing any inconvenience to the customers.”
He refuted allegations that are being leveled by the union that some senior management are intimidating the employees against joining the strike.
Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the union, Keitshokile Basuti, said he is unshaken by rumours being spread by the former employers, Barclays Banks, that they had terminated his contract.
“This is just a cheap campaign to try to discredit me as well as our members,” he said. “The truth of the matter is that I volunteered and opted to take my package and leave the organisation but instead the bank says it has terminated my employment, which is a blue lie.”
Basuti said that if he wanted to stay, he could have stayed “but this then gives me an opportunity to serve the union diligently”.
He assured the union members that he is still Secretary General until he is voted out of office by the members but not by an individual bank.