A dispute has erupted between Bank of Baroda and its employees over salary adjustment, which threatens to drag into a legal tussle should mediation efforts by Department of Labour fail.In contention is a 15 percent adjustment that the bank prefers for its employees, while the workers argue that an adjustment based on percentage distorts the reality of the meagre salaries that they receive at the Indian bank.
They prefer an adjustment based on a lump sum. For instance, an upstart at the bank earns P3000, which means based on the bank’s calculation that employee would earn P450, which they argue is way too little to make do with. The employees’ alternative is that the bank must give a salary increment ranging from P1500 in an effort to bridge the gap between the highly unequal salary scales and achieve parity.
Further, the employees are worried that the bank refuses to negotiate with them referring them instead to the board in India. This is how the matter ended up at Labour when Botswana Bank Employees Union (BOBEU) was drawn into the fray on the side of the workers. BOBEU Secretary General Keitshokile Basupi confirmed that the matter had dragged on since April last year and hoped that the ongoing “salary negotiations” would yield a positive result for the employees, although he declined to divulge the Union’s position on the matter.
The bank’s Managing Director N. Gopal dismissed assertions that the bank’s board was based in India. He said only one member of the board was based in India while the majority were in Botswana. He said as such board meetings could be conducted via teleconferencing when the need arose. He said that the delays were caused by the nature of their financial year and the need to compile an annual financial statement, which would then be transmitted to Bank of Botswana before the Union could access it to inform its position for a salary adjustment.
But the employees contend the board is based in India. Apparently management pays local salaries in rupees, hence the impression that the salaries are high. One Pula equals seven rupees. Worse still employees complain that managers have increased their salaries from P8000 to more than P18000 in a short space of time.
They complain further that the bank does not offer them any loans, that its home loans begin and end at P100, 000.
As for other benefits, they say the bank has failed dismally to live up to expectations. Labour has set February 7 for both management and BOBEU to make representations before it. Gopal was however hopeful that they could resolve the impasse before the scheduled date