WINDHOEK: Close to 100 employees of Agribank have commenced with industrial action at all its six branches countrywide, following failed conciliation meetings with the office of the Labour Commissioner on salary negotiations.
The workers have vowed to keep their tools down until their demands are met.
The workers, through the Namibia Financial Institutions’ Union (NAFINU), are demanding that the 12 per cent increase agreed upon be implemented without delay, and that the management be disciplined for their careless and selfish actions.
The workers are further demanding that the appointment of Agribank’s Legal Advisor Erenstine Kalomo be investigated, and that ‘heads should roll’ over her irregular appointment and her inflated counter-offer.
They are also demanding that Human Resources’ (HR) manager Beata Kapolo be redeployed to other responsibilities not related to HR, and that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leonard Iipumbu be fired forthwith.
According to NAFINU Secretary-General (SG) Asnath Zamuee, Agribank management and the union agreed on a 12 per cent salary increase for employees in the bargaining unit, which the Agribank Board rejected and instead approved a mere six per cent salary increase.
She added that the 12 per cent was communicated to the employees, and as such, expectations were raised.
“Why management would opt to engage and enter into an agreement with the union, well-knowing they did not have a mandate from the Board, remains incomprehensible,” charged Zamuee.
She, therefore, called upon the Board to respect and honour the agreement concluded between the parties.
The Board’s decision to renege on the aforesaid agreement constitutes an unfair labour practice in terms of Section 50 (b) of the Labour Act No.11 of 2007.
Zamuee noted that Kalomo was made a 100 per cent counter-offer when she wanted to leave the employ of the bank, from N.dollars 400 000 to N.dollars 800 000. Kalomo came fifth during the interview process for the position she currently occupies, at the clear expense of Agribank now, she added.
The Bank is also constantly spending a lot of money on consultancy fees for external lawyers while it has a legal advisor, and she therefore called for the use of these consultancies to be stopped forthwith.
Zamuee further stated that Agribank acted in bad faith right from the commencement of the negotiations, and therefore called on the Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to intervene in the matter.
“This industrial action is regrettable as we are convinced this matter could have been dealt with differently,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, the NAFINU SG expressed concern that Agribank has deactivated the access cards of the striking employees to restrict them from entering the bank’s premises during the strike.
Zamuee said the bank is denying their own employees ablution facilities, arguing that they are forced to make use of public and other companies’ facilities.
All this is allegedly spearheaded by Kapolo, whom workers have declared a vote of no confidence in due to her failure to develop and implement important policies.