The Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) is not ruling out the possibilities of a strike as it intends to take action against Standard Chartered Bank for events that occurred on the 15th of this month.
The bank management recently made a decision to implement salary increases for non-managers at a ratio of 5 percent, a ratio that the union was vehemently contesting.
BOBEU had asked for 9 percent.
The General Secretary of BOBEU, Keitshokile Basuti, said that Section 39 of the Trade Dispute Act confers on the parties the right to strike or lockout in dispute of interest, provided the parties have followed the dispute resolution procedures.
“Management decided to exercise their right by paying so we were also in the process of exercising our right, the extent to which we will go is open and will be determined by the response of management and events as they unfold, but we definitely intend to take action,” said Basuti.
The negotiations for salary increments between the bank and BOBEU started in April and, by August 13, the two parties had declared a dispute. Due to their Collective Bargaining Agreement, the parties were referred to the Commissioner of Labour for mediation.
According to Kamogelo Chiusiwa, head of the bank’s Human Resources, several mediation meetings on the dispute were held at the Department of Labour, the last of which was on the 5th of October.
Chiusiwa said that the mediator issued a certificate of failure after both parties could not reach an agreement.
However, Basuti said that during the mediation efforts, the union had lowered its 9 percent to 7 percent but management had refused to budge.
“In our view, management did not show commitment to the resolution of the matter when we parted at labour. Management had indicated that they will consider arbitration, which in our view was a better option than unilateral paying,” said Basuti.
In her memo, Chiusiwa had also said that one of the reasons why management took the decision is because the bank’s performance has in the last three years experienced a downward trend in performance. To which BOBEU does not believe that this should translate into losses, it maybe due to reduced profits or budget not met.
Basuti said that they believe that management is hiding behind the down turn, forgetting that employees also made efforts to weather the difficult times while management was getting hefty bonuses.