New Era (Windhoek)

13 December 2012

Namibia: Fides Strike Into Its Second Week

Ongwediva — Fides Bank and the Namibia Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu) have not yet reached agreement on a range of grievances by employees, including salaries, as the strike goes into its second week.

Since the beginning of the strike last week Monday, the union and the management of Fides Bank have been in deadlock and employees are determined to continue with the strike.

Underpaid, financially starved, unsafe working conditions, slavery, incompetent managers, are just some of the more common words written on the posters and placards of the striking employees of the Fides Bank at Ongwediva.

According to Fides Bank Chief Executive Officer, Michel Arnold, the company is willing to meet at least seven demands, but it was not willing to pay bonuses or change the transport mode used by the field workers as demanded by union representatives.

"We have also told the striking employees that they will not get paid for the days that they are striking. But the company has agreed to a salary increment of 18 percent, a pension, and providing a training allowance to new employees, among others," said Arnold.

Employees of the Fides Bank branches at Oshikango, Ondangwa, Ongwediva Oshakati and Outapi have been on strike since last week Monday following the failure of a conciliation process between the bank and Nafinu.

"The remuneration of three executives is greater than the salaries of the bargaining unit combined. The manager of finance, Hileni Kaifanua, earns a whopping N$3 200 per day. The bank's chief operating officer (COO), Romain Tevels, earns his salary in euro, which amounts to close to N$120 000 per month. These two individuals are among the top earners in the financial sector," reads a media statement issued by Nafinu's Secretary General Asnath Zamuee.

Also, the striking employees most of whom are hired as field workers use motorcycles as their mode of transport and which according to them are unsafe.

The loan officers allegedly receive little training on how to use the motorbikes and are sent out in the field without adequate safety arrangements.

Moreover, the company does not offer medical or death insurance to employees, who have been involved in motorcycle accidents.

This year alone over 28 accidents involving Fides Bank employees' bikes were recorded, according to Zamuee.

Workers further claim that their COO is arrogant and treats workers badly. "We also demand the immediate deportation of Romain Tevels. He is responsible for the low morale of the employees at the bank with his arrogant and bombastic attitude. Foreigners should not be allowed to misbehave and abuse local employees. They should localise the board as the current arrangement is ludicrous. This people are not in touch with the people on the ground," read the petition of the striking employees.

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