Monday 25 September 2017

Banks strike stopped

Banks strike stopped
(Swazi Observer 08/18/17)

IT will be business as usual for banks and financial institutions in the country as the proposed sympathy strike by the Swaziland Union of Financial Institution and Allied Workers (SUFIAW) has been called off.

The sympathy strike which was proposed by SUFIAW and was to take place today was called off after the Swaziland Banking Association (SBA) took the matter to court, where they wanted an order stopping SUFIAW from shutting down banks in the country.

Chairman of the SBA Dennis Mbingo confirmed that the court had granted an order in their favour.

“Yes, we took the matter to court where we were seeking an interdict stopping the proposed sympathy strike which according to the laws of the land is unlawful. The court ruling was in our favour as the strike was rendered unlawful,” he said.

SUFIAW Secretary General Jabu Shiba confirmed this development. “It’s true that the sympathy strike is off because the SBA ran to court. However, the Nedbank strike is still ongoing and we will not back down until the bank gives into our demands,” she said.

The Nedbank strike has been ongoing for four weeks now, after the two parties reached a deadlock in cost of living increment negotiations.

The employees want a 10 per cent increment but the bank initially put seven per cent on the table but they have since upped their offer to 8.25 per cent.

Instead of the impasse between the two parties between the two parties being resolved, they have been intensifying following Nedbank’s decision to employee temporal staff something that the union has viewed as a dirty move, hence the call for a sympathy strike.

During the course of the strike, there has been a mediation process which has failed to come up with a resolution.

Also both parties have each taken the other to court. In the first instance Nedbank ran to court over demarcations, where they wanted the bank to order the employees to be stationed at one place while engaging in their strike action and not block the entrance to the bank. This time around the union has taken the bank to court for employing temporal staff while permanent employees of the bank are engaged in a lawful strike, a ruling on this matter is expected today.

To reiterate the chairperson’s comments, the SBA also sent in a statement assuring clients of all its members that it would be business as usual today contrary to the reports that have been published in the media prior to today.

“The SBA would like to advise customers that banks will be operating normally on the said date following a decision of the court, any attempts by any person to disrupt banking operations will be deemed unlawful and addressed accordingly,” read the statement. The association further promised that attempts will be made by individual banks to protect the rights of customers to access banking services with no disruption.

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“Should customers feel any form of intimidation or suffer abuse or harm, such acts should be reported to the relevant bank,” continues the statement.

The statement also reminds staff employed by the individual banking institutions to act appropriately with caution. “Staff employed by the individual banking institutions shall receive communication from their principals and we expect our members to exercise all means possible to protect employees from any disruptive behaviour,” continues the report.

The association further states that involvement of other parties in the issue involving Nedbank and its employees would add no value hence they must be left to the competent hands of the two parties.

Nedbank must stop casual workers, orders Minister

“THE employment of temporary staff during a lawful strike action is in violation of the law and must stop forthwith.”

This is an order that was issued out by the Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula when addressing the ongoing Nedbank strike action.

The minister said the reports that Nedbank had employed temporary staff were disturbing. She advised that the bank should behave professional in this regard and observe the law. Employment of temporary staff during a lawful strike action is in violation of the law and must stop forthwith.

She said the purpose of a strike is to make the employer feel the pinch and hiring temporal staff defeats the whole purpose. She further cautioned both parties to ensure that their conduct or behaviour during the strike action is consistent with the standards of the law so that they do not lose the protection of the law. “The parties are reminded of the recently Gazetted Code of Good Practice governing Industrial and protest actions as well as the public order act.

These pieces of Legislation are essential in guiding conduct of participants in a lawful strike action and government’s role to intervene where necessary in the event of deviation from lawful practice and threat to public order,” said the minister. When reached for comment Nedbank Head of Corporate Affairs Lomkhosi Dlamini said they wouldn’t respond on the issue of temporary workers as the issue was currently in court and they were awaiting a ruling on it.

“We are currently engaged in litigation on this matter and expect a ruling on August 18, 2017. We respect the court processes and will reserve our comments on the matter until these processes have concluded,” she said.

The matter is in court after Nedbank employees through their union ran to court to challenge the bank’s decision to hire temporary staff while the permanent employees are engaged in a strike action over cost of living increment.

The bank’s lawyer Zweli Jele has been quoted in the past saying the bank had a right to effect replacement labour to avoid its operations shutting down in the country.

‘Participating in sympathy strike unlawful’

MINISTER of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula has warned SUFIAW members against partaking in a sympathy strike as it a violation of the law.

The minister’s remarks come a day after the Swaziland Banking Association (SBA) issued a statement stating that the country’s Industrial Relations Act does not provide for sympathy strikes hence employees who participate in one are exposing themselves to disciplinary action.

Magagula said the ministry noted with concern recent newspaper reports that the SUFIAW has since extended an invitation to its members from other banks and financial institutions to join the Nedbank strike action. “The ministry would like to advise that this is not allowed in terms of the labour laws of the country and that if this will happen as reported, those who will participate in this sympathy strike action will be in violation of the law,” said Magagula. She said partaking in the sympathy strike action will definitely spoil the ongoing negotiations between Nedbank and the union. She added that the proposed sympathy strike action and all those who will participate in it will not be protected by law, therefore, would be doing so at their own risk.

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