Standard Bank faces strike vote

Bank employees will vote on whether to strike after all attempts at agreeing on salary increases failed.

17 July 2019 | Labour

ELVIRA HATTINGH



Members of the Bank Workers Union of Namibia (Bawon) are to vote on whether to strike following a deadlock in salary negotiations with Standard Bank Namibia.

Thomas Muchima, the union’s secretary-general, told the media yesterday that the union and bank would discuss how the voting process would proceed.

He added that the bank would not budge from its offer of a 5.2% increase while the union had demanded 7.2%. The union has since asked Standard Bank to meet them “in the middle” at 6.2%.

“It is not our goal to strike but it is our last option after all other avenues have been exhausted,” Muchima said, adding that the strike would include peaceful demonstrations.

“The public must be informed that our members will not work during the strike. It may sound as though we are being unreasonable but this is not our main goal.”

He added that eight or nine rounds of negotiations had been held but not even arbitration by the labour commissioner could result in an agreement.

An increase of 6.2%, Muchima said, would push N$40 million into the local labour market which would help to stimulate the ailing economy.

“When you compare this to the bank’s recent profit of N$400 million, the increase will still leave them with N$360 million.” He believes that the bank’s shareholders can sacrifice a single year of their profits because workers do it every year.

Standard Bank’s chief of marketing, Magreth Mengo, said the bank had offered competitive and market-related increases over the past five years, which were all higher than the inflation rate.

In a press statement, she added that the bank’s housing and transport allowances exceeded industry standards.

Mengo said Bawon had initially asked for 9% and the bank initially offered 4.5%.

In reality, more than 60% of the bank’s employees will receive an increase of between 5.5 and 6% on the basis of their performance evaluations.

The negotiations only covered Bawon’s bargaining unit because employees on management level had already agreed to increases of 0% to 3%.

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