BRANCH BANKING | , Indonesia

UOB workers go on strike

If the current economic environment isn’t challenging enough, nightmares of an impending strike from UOB workers in the Singaporean bank’s Indonesian arm UOB Buana have turned into a harsh reality. Not only has the strike affected the bank's operations nationwide, with at least 4,000 out of 5,800 staff taking part in the strike. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.Thousands of workers of UOB Buana Bank, a local unit of Singapore-based United Overseas Bank Ltd, launched a three-day strike on Monday, disrupting the bank’s operations nationwide. UOB labor union secretary general Endang Sutisna said the strike was launched after the management and workers failed to make a deal during a meeting on Sunday night over the workers’ demands for a pay rise and annual bonus payment. "We have been demanding it since January, but there has not yet been any response from the management, and the last night’s meeting was the climax to the problem," Endang said.He said at least 4,000 workers from 23 branch offices were joining the strike, which was expected to last until Wednesday. Currently, UOB employs 5,800 workers and operates 35 branches nationally. The strike has disrupted the bank’s operation as most of its branches could only provide limited service to customers with a majority of workers going for the strike, reported The Jakarta Post.The management announced in a letter distributed to the bank’s branches on Monday that only some branches in Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Batam, Medan, Bandung, and Palembang were able to provide full services for customers. UOB director for corporate services Safrullah Hadi Saleh said the company had not yet calculated the losses from the strike, but "it would try to minimise the level, while trying to renegotiate with the workers."He said the company had asked the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry to mediate in negotiations. "We will meet again with the workers tomorrow (today) at the ministry’s office," Safrullah said.The meeting will discuss four proposals from the workers, including demands that the management increase workers' salaries by 26 percent and pay the 2008 annual bonus at the same level as in 2007.

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