28 September 2012

Namibia: Protracted Agribank Strike Ends

Windhoek — Agribank employees ended their two-week strike yesterday after the bank and the Namibia Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu) agreed on an 8 percent salary increment for all employees across the board, backdated to April 1 this year.

The employees had initially demanded a 12 percent increase but the bank's management were adamant that they could only grant an increase of 6 percent at the time. A short statement issued by Agribank CEO, Ambassador Leonard Iipumbu, stated that the bank would also finalise investigations into medical aid benefits and investigate allegations made against its Human Resource Manager, Beata Kapolo, whom the union and workers accuse of incompetence, by the end of November.

Before the negotiations, Asnath Zamuee, Nafinu's secretary general issued a statement in which she said she was disappointed that the bank could not afford the 12 percent increment.

At the time the union said that Iipumbu issued several press statements about the positive performance of the bank but now had an issue with rewarding employees for their achievements.

Nafinu said during a march protest before the strike that the management of Agribank brought about workers' frustrations since they were negotiating in bad faith during this year's negotiations and ignored long-standing grievances, adding that management deliberately misled employees by agreeing on a 12 percent salary increase, while they knew that they did not have a mandate from the board.

When the board apparently met on July 31, it rejected the proposed agreement and approved a mere 6 percent. The union further accused the bank of not applying good governance practice in that it apparently did not open up the tender for renovations to the public for such a big project, while the amount budgeted for the work is questionable.

The bank's legal advisor, Erenstine Kalomo, was apparently also appointed in a questionable manner after she came fifth in the interviews and was offered a 100 percent counter-offer when she wanted to 'jump ship'.

Other complaints that the union raised were that employees were being transferred without proper consultation and in the absence of a clear transfer policy; employees were being promoted, while Agribank does not have a promotion policy; and that positions are not advertised to allow others to apply.

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