Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Tensions escalate in Barclays Bank leadership and staff relationship

Barclays Bank executive management has slapped members of Barclays Management Staff Union (BAMSU) with letters of misconduct and failure to comply with the Bank’s Code of Conduct.

This comes after the Botswana Banks Employees Union (BOBEU) and MAMSU threatened a nationwide strike following unresolved differences between the Barclays Bank executive management and staff.

In a letter written to BAMSU executive committee members (individually) detailing the charges in which they will be arraigned for disciplinary hearing, the bank states that following independent investigations, it has discovered that the accused coordinated a meeting at which some concerned managers wrote a letter to the bank management and copied the same to external stakeholders on internal matters.

The external stakeholders to which the letters were copied are Office of the President, the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs and the Governor of the Bank of Botswana.

The charge states that the bank discovered during its investigations that the accused obtained attendants’ signatures by false pretences in that the attendants believed that they were signing an attendance register whereas the accused proceeded to use their signatures as an attestation for the letter that was allegedly copied to the external stakeholders.

“This act or conduct attracted negative publicity and had the potential to damage the brand and reputation of the bank. The bank views the above conduct seriously and has considered disciplinary action against you appropriate,” reads the charge in part.

The charged have been given seven days within which to respond to the charges.

In its letter of September 1, 2011 addressed to the bank’s managing director, Wilfred Mpai, and copied to the OP, MoL&HA and BoB, ┬áBAMSU addressed five issues, namely: adoption of inappropriate dismissal tactics by the bank, impending retrenchment of staff by the bank, pension funds transition surplus funds, out of cycle and┬á devolved pay.

BAMSU noted that management had embarked on dismissing staff under the pretext of poor performance whereas assessment of staff performance was not fairly conducted and the exercise was done as a way of reducing the staff compliment as to avoid paying the affected employees a separation package.
The union complained further that a comparative exercise with other Barclays African countries revealed that they had in place competitive voluntary exit packages to staff in case of retrenchments.

“Unfortunately, Barclays Botswana appears not to have any particular position on this matter while it is already contemplating embarking on an involuntary retrenchment exercise,” bemoans the union.
On the issue of pension fund transition, it is alleged that the bank used a formula that favoured the bank while disadvantaging employees.

“This resulted in huge surpluses being allocated to the bank while lower transfer values were made to staff. We have, on numerous occasions, requested the bank to re-consider this issue with a view to ensuring that staff that leave the bank at retirement age particularly are not, immediately upon leaving the bank, subjected to a life of abject of poverty,” decried the union.

The union also took a swipe at the out of cycle policy which they alleged is discriminatory as it targeted certain scales of the bank in contravention of the Botswana labour laws as it is only applicable to management cadre and thus depriving them of their promotion benefits after successful assessment of internal job application.

The bank is further accused of failing to follow the 2004 devolved pay structure as there is “absolutely no engagement with staff. Employees are just given letters without prior consultations. This results in disparities as in some instances, employees who are rated in the same grade are awarded different annual increments,” states the letter to management.

It is thus alleged by the union that there are no checks and balances thereby rendering the process open to abuse and favouritism.

“This impacts negatively on managerial cadre staff because their salaries and pensions do not grow and are also eroded by inflation and cost of living adjustments, which are not accounted for in the salaries,” it is alleged.

Sunday Standard is reliably informed that working relations soured at the bank since the ascendance of Mpai to the helm in June. It is alleged that he does not have the welfare of the employees at heart, is too arrogant, boastful and threatens the entire staff, who do not toe the line, with dismissals.

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