Letshego refuses to accept petition from demonstrators
Letshego Bank Namibia chief executive officer Ester Kali refused to accept a petition from the Namibian Financial Institution Union (Nafinu) leadership that, along with the bank’s employees, gathered for a peaceful demonstration at the bank’s premises yesterday.
Nafinu secretary-general Asnath Zamuee told New Era they gave the bank five days to respond to their demands, and failure to do so they will gather again at the bank two weeks from now.
Speaking to New Era afterwards, Kali said she had hoped that any demonstrative action would be avoided given the company’s full compliance with the recognition and procedural agreement (RPA) “and our ongoing commitment to regular, two-way dialogue with Nafinu on various items”. She said the bank remains committed to proactive engagements with all its stakeholders, which includes Nafinu.
Zamuee yesterday, along with the employees who chanted protest songs, is requesting the bank to release the results of a benchmark exercise that was carried out by the bank.
Zamuee explained that the benchmark exercise is a salary survey that was carried out by Letshego after it transitioned to a bank.
Zamuee indicated that Letshego employees are paid below general bank market standards, hence the reason for the bank carrying out the exercise.
“In April last year the bank acknowledged that we were not receiving market related salaries and initiated a benchmarking exercise. Their commitment at the time was that once the results were out they would be communicated to the union and the consultation process on benefits will commence,” the petition read.
But Zamuee said to their surprise it has been a battle to get feedback from Letshego management.
“We have been met with hostility and arrogance several times. We don’t know what the secrecy is around the benchmark exercise.”
Apart from demanding that the benchmark results be shared with the union, Nafinu is also demanding involvement of shop stewards (as observers) in the recruitment exercise to ensure fair process. The union also wants a work environment free of intimidation and threats.
Zamuee said the bank should show reverence to its workers, some of whom have been at the bank for many years.
Zamuee said newcomers in the company on many occasions earn more than the loyally serving employees.
“This petition seeks to restore fair treatment and equity to the people who carry Letshego on their shoulders but are not afforded respect and the platform to express their unhappiness without being held in contempt.”
She said CEO Kali once told employees that if they are unhappy on the bus, they should get off.
Zamuee added that employees expect to have a work environment in which they are free to raise their concerns without being threatened or intimated.
“We also expect an environment in which promotion and recruitment processes are done in a fair and consistent manner. Letshego must realise that the morale and happiness of employees is directly related to good customer service. A happy workforce will translate into happy clients.”