Windhoek-A usually cordial relationship between the Bank Workers Union of Namibia (BAWON) and Standard Bank is on the verge of turning sour as the two parties have reached a deadlock on wage and benefits negotiations for 2018.
While the union is demanding an eight percent increase across the board, the bank is sticking to its offer of seven percent. Now that a deadlock has been reached the union has declared a notice of dispute with the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
While the two offers from the opposing parties seem fairly close together, they are in fact further apart once broken down into the four performance-based salary categories at the bank. Standard Bank is offering an 8.9 percent increase for best performing category, which the union agrees with. However, this is where the agreement ends as in the three other categories the bank is offering 7.4 percent for Right on Track (while the union wants 8.2 percent), 6.2 percent for the Making Progress category (the union wants 7.5 percent) and 5 percent for the Time to Step Up category (the union wants 6 percent).
According to BAWON’s National Coordinator, Chiteta Kaleji, the bank refused to meet the union half way but rather gave the union a final, non-negotiable offer in response to the union’s proposal. “BAWON members are cognisant of the fact that the economy in general is predicted with hardship but promising in some ways based on the statement by Economic Associatin of Namibia iin partnership with Standard Bank on February 14, 2018. The Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, highlighted that 2017 was a tough year but we can say we faced the challenges and reacted with intervention that now allow us to look forward with optimism to 2018,” said Kaleji.
Reading a statement on behalf on BAWON Secretary General, Thomas Muchima, Kaleji noted that it is on the basis of an expected recovery of the domestic economy in 2018 and solid growth rates anticipated in 2019 that the union is making its demands. “With that in mind, the labour force does not believe that these challenges can be resolved by sacrificing salaries of the workers,” said Kaleji.
BAWON is now calling on all Shop Stewards, National Executive Committee members as well as its general membership to stand together to speak with one comprehensive voice across the board.
“The Secretary General further humbly requests the support of both sister unions, namely the Namibia Financial Institutions Union (NAFINU) and the Namibia Bank Workers Union (NBWU) in the banking and other financial institutions to support the cause of the workers and stand united to protect and defend the interests of workers in the industry,” Kaleji added.
He also called on BAWON stewards to mobilise their jurisdictions to stand together on the cause they have embarked upon.