Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Strike averted

Deal by BSP and workers defuses financial crisis


A STRIKE by workers of Bank South Pacific was averted yesterday after the bank agreed in principle to four of five demands by the workers, The National reports.

BSP is a nationally-owned company with more than 60% of market share, and a strike by the workers would seriously affect the financial sector and the economy.

With bank workers walking off their jobs, payrolls may not be processed, branches may close and people will not be able to pay for goods and services as the financial and banking system is brought to its knees.

But ongoing negotiations between the BSP management and union leaders, since a majority voted last week for strike in a secret ballot, took a positive turn yesterday.

According to the general secretary of PNG Banks and Financial Institutions Workers Union Vera Raga, BSP responded positively to four of the five unresolved conditions for which 97% of the workers that had taken a secret ballot had voted to go on strike.

“But the issue on increase on housing allowance is still the sticking point,” Raga said.

“We will continue our discussions tomorrow (today) and we hope to achieve a positive solution for both parties,” he said.

The four that were agreed to by BSP were the inclusion of the union in the redundancy monitoring committee; higher duty allowances to be paid as done in the past prior to 2003; leave fare entitlements to be paid on merits to both male and female employees; and a housing scheme for workers.

Raga said the BSP executive, including deputy chief executive officer Johnson Kalo, were in the meeting discussing the issues.

“We will continue our discussions tomorrow (today) until we achieve the best results for the workers,” Raga stressed.

More than 97% of 1,229 BSP workers who participated in a secret ballot last week agreed to take industrial actions if BSP did not improve their conditions of employment which were agreed to under an industrial memorandum of agreement in 2007.

BSP made a net profit of more than K250 million last year, an increase of 12.6% on the previous year’s K228.3 million.

Banks in the Pacific and the Asia region have made handsome profits in recent times, but have been increasingly criticised for paying little attention to employment conditions of its employees.


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