Nationwide strike looms at FNB
Labour Commissioner Bro Mathew Shinguadja is today expected to hear arguments related to the protracted wage negotiations between leading bank, FNB Namibia, and the Namibia Bank and Allied Workers Union (NBWU) – amidst plans of a nationwide strike at the financial institution.
A nationwide strike is a real possibility so much that FNB Namibia Holdings CEO Vekuii Rukoro has, in an internal memorandum issues last week, warned that there would be consequences for those who might embark on a strike, irrespective of its legality.
Rukoro cautioned that the principle of no-work-no-pay will apply to all employees ‘who participate in a legal strike,’ which means that the relevant proportions of salaries and benefits will be deducted.
The deductions will affect the pension and medical aid fund contributions, subsidised home loan interest as well the 13th cheque, the CEO stated in the memo.
The two warring-parties head into a conciliation hearing today at Shinguadja’s office with a view to map out the way forward in a dispute that has dragged on for nine months now.
The key players on both sides failed to settle the long-running dispute that resulted in strained relations that first leaked through to the media and then landed on the Labour Commissioner’s desk. The issue has been dragging on since November last year.
At this point, the bank still sticks to its offers, while the union also has no intention of giving way to its demands.
The union is demanding a salary increases above inflation, a 100% medical aid increase, N$750 as a housing allowance, a further N$500 in the transport allowance and the provision of low-cost housing.
The bank offers employees without medical aid a 7% salary increase, while employees with medical aid are to receive a 6% salary increase.
The bank proposes to fund an annual phased 10% decrease in the employee medical aid contribution.
The parties, however, reached an agreement with the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) to provide low-cost housing to employees.
Yesterday, the union’s vice president, Olsen Kahiriri, confirmed that the union will go into today’s talks with the same position.
“We are not going to be intimidated,” he said.
“The circular that was issued by Rukoro last week clearly shows their disregard for our cause, and in our opinion, it is threatening our members.”
In its view, the union believes it is being realistic because the aim is to have job and income security for the employees, while help preserve the long-term sustainability and financial viability of the bank.
“Other banks, such as Bank Windhoek, reward their employees accordingly because they know what the workers mean to their sustainability and growth,” Kahiriri said.
“FNB Namibia, which claims it is the biggest bank in the country, cannot do that while we all know that they make huge profits.”
The union earlier approached the Labour Commissioner to declare a dispute as both parties agreed to follow a conciliation process.
In the consolidated unaudited group results for the six months ended December 31, 2011, FNB Holdings states that headline earnings for the period ended December 31, 2011 increased by 9% to N$280 million compared to N$258 million in 2010, while profit increased by 9% to N$307 million in relation to N$283 million in 2010.
Also, profit from continuing operations increased by 18% to N$281 million, as compared to N$235 million in 2010.
“Asset growth and increased transactional volumes contributed to the positive performance and this despite the lacklustre local economy and uncertainty in international markets,” the bank says.