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Bank strike looms in salary increase row

The banking industry is on the brink of a labour crisis after unionised staff met on Tuesday and resolved to go on strike if their employers fail to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on Thursday next week.

Banks could see up to 25 per cent of the workforce walk off the job, leaving their superiors in management struggling to keep their banking halls open, unless the two parties settle some sticking issues that forced negotiations to collapse after eight months.

The talks, which started in December to replace a CBA sealed two years ago, collapsed after the two parties differed on eight issues, including new basic salaries and leave days.

This follows months of troubled negotiations that were at one point stopped by a controversial court order allegedly barring management from discussing a “special issue” and at another by union demands that one top-tier bank’s representative be barred for his abrasive and threatening behaviour.

MAJOR STRIKE

The Banking Insurance and Finance Union of Kenya (BIFU), representing some 8,000 members, says workers will go on strike a week after September 3 if the meeting does not settle the outstanding issues.

“The workers will go on strike seven days after September 3 if an agreement is not reached,” said Tom Odero, the BIFU organising secretary.

Mr Odero said the banks, through the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), has not been negotiating in good faith, leading to the stalemate.

The impending strike would involve subordinate staff, supervisors, loans officers and clerical workers, including tellers.

The last major strike in Kenya’s banking industry was seen in March 1998 when workers protested the government’s decision to raise interest rates on employer-subsidised loans.