Banks fire over 2 000 workers

MORE than 2 000 employees have been fired from the banking sector since 2009, with 130 sacked using the recent Supreme Court ruling, a bankers’ union has said.

Fidelity Mhlanga

Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) secretary-general Peter Mutasa said this week 1 930 employees had already lost their jobs to the terminations, adding that the sector is now employing just 4 323 non-managerial employees from over 6 500.

So far, more than 20 000 workers across all sectors of the economy have been affected by the Supreme Court ruling which gave companies the leeway to dismiss workers on three months’ notice.

About 75 employees have been axed at BancABC, Steward bank dismissed 28, Metbank fired 25 with Stanbic Bank sacking two as companies take advantage of the July 17 supreme court ruling to reduce costs.

Mutasa said the dismissal of 28 employees at Steward Bank was linked to workers’ opposition to the employer’s proposed new terms during a collective bargaining exercise. Penalising employees under such circumstances was unlawful, notwithstanding the Supreme Court judgement.

“We are considering each case on its peculiarities and approaching appropriate forums. For Steward Bank, we have filed a constitutional application on the basis that the terminations contravene section 56 which guarantees equal protection of the law and section 65 (1) which provides for right to fair labour practices,” he said.

As to Stanbic Bank dismissals, Mutasa said the union has already filed an application for a show cause order because the termination amounts to an unlawful lock out in terms of sections 102 and 105 of the Labour Act.
He said the employees had won their case against the bank on previous dismissals at the Labour court and the bank refused to reinstate them, opting to terminate on notice, adding this was unlawful in terms of the stated sections of the Act as the Supreme Court judgement does not nullify these sections of the Act.

“For Metbank and BancABC we are still analysing the legal issues involved, but we may end up approaching the Constitutional Court for we believe that the terminations contravene various sections of the Constitution such as section 3 which provides for the supremacy of the constitution over any custom, practice or law. The only challenge though is the reluctance of our judiciary to give life to the constitutional provisions when determining labour matters,” said Mutasa.

The banking sector went through various forms of restructuring in the last three years with a high number of employees affected by retrenchments and bank closures.

Zibawu said the sector survived mainly on confidence and goodwill and these terminations may lead customers to doubt the stability of banks.

“This may lead to deposit flights as customers will not be certain about the security of their investments. Besides, I think the generality of the population regards these rounds of terminations as heartless and involved banks may be judged negatively in the court of public opinion well after the dust has settled,” Mutasa said.

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