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MBABANE – Standard Bank Eswatini Limited staff is expected back at work today, after both parties agreed on a six per cent salary increment.

This follows that employees of the bank had voted for a strike action, which commenced yesterday. The employees from most of the bank’s branches picketed outside their workstation demanding a salary increment of 8.5 per cent across the board. It has been gathered that negotiations between the employees, represented by the Swaziland Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers (SUFIAW) started three months ago, and they had been at a deadlock since. Yesterday, both parties agreed on the six per cent salary increase.


While the employees wanted their salaries increased by 8.5 per cent, the bank had tabled an offer of 5.2 per cent, which they had rejected until yesterday afternoon when they called off the strike to resume work today. SUFIAW Secretary General (SG) Jabu Shiba, in an interview yesterday, said the strike had helped the bank employees to get six per cent from their employer, instead of the 5.2 per cent. Shiba said after the agreement reached by both parties, the union decided to call off the strike. “We started our negotiations in February 2023, by engaging the employer in demand of the salary increment, but we were not reaching any agreement. The matter was then referred to the  Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC), where both parties failed to reach any fruitful agreement,” said Shiba. She said due the unresolved dispute at CMAC, the union then opted to sanction a strike, which happened yesterday morning.

According to Shiba, they received a letter on Sunday from the employer, calling them to a meeting, which was scheduled for yesterday morning. The SUFIAW SG said it was in that meeting where they ended up accepting the six per cent instead of the previous 5.2 per cent. “Having the strike has helped us because the employer ended up giving us the six per cent,” added Shiba. Thereon, she pleaded with all employers to always be sensitive to the issues affecting their staff. According to Shiba, employees never embarked on a strike due to excitement, but as a result of frustration.

“Employers must also learn that issues that pertain to salaries, especially, must be dealt with as soon as possible. The reason is that the more you delay, this then leads to employees getting angry and things then reaches boiling point. It then becomes difficult even for the union itself to control its members once they become angry. That is the caution we have for employers,” said Shiba. According to the memorandum of agreement between Standard Bank Eswatini Limited and SUFIAW, which was signed by both parties yesterday, it stated that the agreement would cover all employees falling within the bargaining unit of Standard Bank Eswatini Limited and they shall receive the six per cent on the basic salary as agreed upon. The agreement also stated that it shall come into effect from March 1, 2023 and expire on February 28, 2024. The memorandum of agreement states that the bank has offered a discretionary performance merit award as follows;

* Setting the example  1 per cent

* Right on track          0.85 per cent and
* Making progress      0.5 per cent.

The agreements further reads; “Furthermore, the agreement constitutes the sole record of the agreement between the parties and no variation, addition or consensual cancellation shall be of any force and effect unless in writing and signed by both parties.” Standard Bank Eswatini Head of Brand and Marketing, Sibusile Sigwane, said the bank had offered a competitive percentage increment during the negotiations between management and staff, led by their union SUFIAW. Sigwane said efforts towards a negotiated settlement at this stage were successful. “The management of the bank wishes to extend sincere appreciation to all parties involved during the negotiations. We also express sincere apologies to our customers and the public at large for any inconvenience caused,” she said. Despite the workers picketing outside their office in Mbabane, services provision was continuing, although it was slow as compared to normal days.