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FNB and NBWU negotiations reach a deadlock

Lawrence Ihuhua, Secertary General of the NBWU. (Photograph by Lorato Khobetsi)

Lawrence Ihuhua, Secertary General of the NBWU. (Photograph by Lorato Khobetsi)

The ongoing salary and benefit negotiations between the Namibia Bank and Allied Workers Union (NBWU) and FNB for the 2013/14 financial year has reached a new high.
According to Lawrence Ihuhua, Secertary General of the NBWU, the Union has decided to reject the        7% increment and slight increase in other benefits offered by the Bank and demands that the bank increase its offer to 12% plus other benefits such as housing and transport.
“It is now time for us as the bargaining union to put pressure on the bank to begin and to make a substantive move from their unrealistic offer of 7% and a slight meaningless increase in benefits. The Union has rejected all these offers from the bank in its totality,” he said.
He said that the bank finds it difficult to meet the union’s offer and this posed challenges during the negotiations, however the union believes that its members deserve more .
“We declare a dispute as we were not satisfied and successful in our efforts to settle on the best possible deal under the circumstances. The arguments on the table put forward from FNB’s negotiating team is not acceptable and thus the union stands on its ground in demanding a fair, equitable and a better acceptable settlement than the norm and most importantly, sustainable for its members,” said Ihuhua.
He also said, the union is going to continue in engaging with the Bank to accomplish an amicable solution to this deadlock but has also warned the Bank that its members reserves the right to withdraw their labour, it they do not get a sizeable wage increase and an acceptable response to their demand.
“In the light of the present increase in the prices of food, fuel, medical aid tariffs and electricity as well as the expected increase in the prime bank rates, a real increase of 7% is totally unacceptable. It is important to note that the bank has only moved and tabled a meagre revised counter offer in line with the inflation which demonstrates their unwillingness to conclude these negotiations amicably,” he said.
Vicky Muranda, Manager: Corporate Communications at FNB Holdings said that concerns noted by the Union at its press conference with regards to the ongoing negotiations is not a true reflection of FNB’s offer.
She said the decision by the Union to go to the media is in violation of the Recognition Agreement between FNB and the union, which in section 6.8 clearly states that no party would engage the press or any other media during the course of the negotiations between the union and FNB. Such an act is considered negotiating in bad faith.
“FNB, therefore, deplores this unilateral action in the strongest possible terms, will not negotiate in the media and urges the union to allow the process to progress in terms of the procedures laid down in the Recognition Agreement and Namibian Law,” she added.
Ihuhua also informed the media that industrial action is not ruled out and that the employees will stage a peaceful demonstration and hand over a petition next week Wednesday.
“We are not asking for the millions they are making, we are asking for them to be able to allow the employees to have a good life,” he said.
Muranda further said that it is regrettable that the union chose to host a media briefing the day before the conciliation session is scheduled at the Office of the Labour commissioner and the motives thereof remain highly questionable.
“Should the union choose to continue with its course of action, FNB reserves its rights and will respond or take the actions it deems appropriate or as the circumstances may require,” she said.
The Union is demanding housing Benefit with 30% to be converted into a Housing allowance as part of basic (gross) salary for all employees in the bargaining unit. They also insist on the existing 5% ruling for those with housing loans to be ceased and are to be replaced by this new proposal on housing which is non negotiable. An increment on housing qualifying limits, as proposed in their preliminary offer, salary increments of 12% across the board and transport allowances to remain as such as per proposal.

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