WINDHOEK – A labour dispute is brewing between Standard Bank Namibia and the Bank Workers Union of Namibia (Bawon) regarding salary negotiations for 2019. The dispute emanates from salary negotiations between the two parties during which the union tabled a demand for a nine percent salary increase for its members, providing as a basis for its proposal the cost of living and other factors.
However, the bank, which employs about 1 700 people, responded that the basis for the high demand, in the face of low inflation of 4.1 percent, could not and has not been provided. Following further negotiations, the union reduced its demand to 7.2 percent whilst the bank increased its offer to an average of 5.2 percent, despite the belief that an inflation adjustment of 4.1 percent would be fair and sustainable. Due to the impasse between the bank and the union, the industrial action provision as stipulated in Article 22 of the Recognition Agreement between Standard Bank and Bawon is expected to take effect.
“We will continue to engage employees with a view to finding an amicable and sustainable solution. Our future course, as a bank, will be advised by the outcome of our attempts to resolve this matter with our employees,” read a statement by Standard Bank’s Head of Marketing, Communications and CSI, Magreth Mengo. The bank also took out half-page adverts in local newspapers to state its position on the negotiations.
Standard Bank’s recognition agreement with Bawon outlines the labour relationship between the two parties and includes the principles and ground rules for the negotiation of salaries and other benefits on behalf of employees in the bargaining unit.
The bank is however adamant that from a sustainability perspective it could not accede to the nine percent increase but instead offered an average increase of 4.5 percent informed by the inflation rate. According to Mengo’s statement, the bank based its decision on the current state of the economy, the current inflation rate of 4.1 percent and the fact that the proposed average 5.2 percent salary increase is significantly higher than the inflation rate. “In fact, more than 60 percent of Standard Bank employees would be getting an increase of between 5.5 percent and six percent based on their 2018 performance. The union did not accept the bank’s offer, resulting in a declaration of a dispute that was followed by several rounds of conciliation meetings facilitated by the Office of the Labour Commissioner between May 2019 and July 2019,” read Mengo’s statement.
The statement continued that the current dispute does not impact the managerial employees as they have already agreed to lower average salary increases of three percent and zero percent for junior and senior managers respectively. The dispute relates, however, only to the bargaining unit.
In terms of the Recognition Agreement, the union and the bank will meet to agree on the rules and logistics for conducting a secret ballot by Bawon’s paid–up members.
“We are hopeful that reason will prevail and that the employees will accept the bank’s offer. However, in the unfortunate event that a strike is decided upon, the bank has in place contingencies to ensure that disruption to its services are kept to an absolute minimum,” reads the statement.
2019-07-17 10:23:36 | 10 months ago