By Darious Magara
About 200 employees of the Bank of Baroda have gone on a sit down strike complaining of poor working conditions, low pay and failure by the bank to pay their gratuity.
Efforts to call off the strike that started on Monday morning were futile. The strike paralysed work in the bank’s fifteen branches country wide.
It is not clear what will happen this week as customers make long queues to be served by a skeleton staff.
The top managers and unionists tried in vain to mediate and call off the strike, but the employees want their demands met by management.
The meeting, that was chaired by the assistant General manager Kumar Rajesh, was attended by the National Union of Trade Unions (NOTU) boss Ursher Were and Mudikafi Mukasa the general secretary of the National Union for Clerical commercial professional Technical Employees (NUCCPTE). Mukasa represented the workers.
When Rajesh descended to the parking yard of the bank, which is situated along Kampala Road, he tried in vain to convince the staffs to call off the strike saying they would attend to their issues in four days.
The workers said they wanted an instant salary revision increase to 20% that was reportedly passed by the parent bank of India and to have their gratuity paid as stipulated by law. They said some of them had received a 10% increment which was not enough.
Mukasa said he was shocked that the bank’s management was adamant to make a salary increment to its workers.
“This salary increment plea has been on the table of the top management of the bank since 2011, how long will the staff wait for it to be implemented?” he asked.
Staff on conditions of anonymity said several allowances they are entitled to were not being paid by the bank.
They said, were not even given a medical allowance but were instead given a medical loan of between sh400,000 to sh600,000 and which is paid once a year.
Lady staff, who were rowdy during the strike, said they are not given maternity leave and those that had not succumbed to the condition were being sacked.
“When you conceive and produce, you are only given a day and if you do not report back to work, you lose the job” a female employee said.
According to a letter dated September 5, 2012 signed by the banks International Manager (Baroda) B. Srinivasan it said they had granted in principle that the staffs pay be increased.
The letter addressed to the bank managing director (Uganda) states in details that allowances and other payments be paid.
Some of the allowances are night, funeral expenses, Per Diem and holiday working out among others.
The employees said they had been sidelined from taking top positions in the bank which remain a preserve of Indians.