The management of Barclays Bank Botswana is headed for a bruising clash with the Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) over its decision to relocate the bank’s call center services to South Africa.
BOBEU Deputy Secretary General, Tshepo Lekote told Sunday Standard last week that the union had uncovered plans by
Barclays to relocate its call center to South Africa. He added that the union is very much against such a move and has already met with Barclays’ management to voice out its displeasure.
“We were shocked by the bank’s intentions because they don’t make sense to us. Relocating the call center effectively means relocating jobs to South Africa. Some of our members will lose their jobs because of this relocation and we fear the bank may not be able to absorb all the affected employees into other departments,” said Lekote.
He also revealed that the bank initially wanted to relocate the call centre last year December, but reneged due to unforeseen circumstances and resistance from the union.
“We don’t support this move because management has failed to convince us. Why should we sacrifice Batswana to create jobs for South Africans?”
Lekote added that as BOBEU they want Botswana to become a hub of technology and many other banking services that will make the business environment conducive for job creation.
He further cautioned that relocating the Barclays call center to South Africa could send a wrong message to other commercial institutions which may also start exploiting employees.
Meanwhile, some employees of Barclays have revealed that only a few employees have been absorbed into other departments while the rest are uncertain about their fate. It has also emerged that Barclays has been trying to keep the planned relocation under wraps.
“We were told not to tell clients that they will in the future be assisted by people from South African when they inquire about their bank accounts as that could scare them,” they said.
In response to a questionnaire from Sunday Standard, Barclays spokesperson Spencer Moreri said the bank continues to explore ways of enhancing its customers’ experience by continuously investing in improved systems and processes. He confirmed that Barclays is in the process of consolidating its self-operated contact centre operations into the South African shared services centre as part of its Africa integration strategy.
“Centralization of the contact centre will ultimately give customers 24 hour access and other self-service options. Through our shared services facility in South Africa, we aim to leverage on the state-of-the art technology and infrastructure to enhance the customer service experience,” said Moreri.
He further said some other countries have already embarked on this initiative, which is part of the Africa strategy; and will see Barclays Africa operations relocating their contact centre operations to a regional hub in Johannesburg.
“Impacted employees will be absorbed into other parts of the business. We remain committed to continue growing our Botswana business and offering our customers access to cutting edge financial solutions. The contact centre has been established since 2006 and we are confident that it will provide maximum benefits to our valued customers. Barclays remains committed to being an employer of choice in the market,” said Moreri in conclusion.