Bank workers’ strike futile — Mushayavanhu

BANKERS Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) president John Mushayavanhu has hit back at the sector’s workers’ union currently planning to embark on industrial action ahead of the festive season as the rift between the two sides widens.

Mushayavanhu on Wednesday told businessdigest that the Zimbabwe Bankers and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu)’s planned strike scheduled for this week would have little impact on the banking system despite Wednesday’s intervention by the labour ministry to avert the industrial action.
“There will be no cost because first and foremost capacity utilisation in the banks is currently very low. In other words, banks are overstaffed so if the industrial action takes place those who are going to come to work are going to be more than enough to be able to serve the needs of the clients,” Mushayavanhu said.
“You will still be able to withdraw your money. You will still be able to bank your money. You will still be able to transfer money from one place to another. Also over the years banks have invested heavily in technology. I only go to the branch because I am managing director of FBC Bank, otherwise I don’t go there to transact.”
Zibawu, a union representing nearly 5 000 workers, accuse bank executives of living lavishly and remunerating “leftovers” to shop-floor workers.
The union threatened that eight banks — Standard Chartered, Stanbic, CBZ, NMB, Kingdom, Barclays, IDBZ and POSB — would be “affected the most during the first phase of the job action”.
But an observation by this paper shows that most banks were operating normally on Wednesday.
The workers are demanding an increment backdated to July amid massive retrenchments that have resulted in at least 1 000 bank workers losing jobs this year.
Mushayavanhu said “levels of computerisation” in the banking system would reduce the impact of the industrial strike that threatened to delay salary processing ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The union is demanding a 115% salary hike while bank employers are prepared to effect a 5% pay rise. Although it was not immediately clear on what was resolved during this week’s meeting with government, Mushayavanhu confirmed that the Ministry of Labour had engaged the union and human resources executives from various banking institutions.
Efforts to get comment from Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa were fruitless as she was reported to be in a meeting at the time of going to print. Phillip Mutasa, Zibawu president, did not pick up his mobile phone when this paper reached him for comment yesterday.
Mushayanahu dismissed as “divisive” allegations by Zibawu that bank executives where being remunerated handsomely while shop-floor workers were surviving on salaries below the poverty datum line of US$498 monthly.
“They (Zibawu) are fighting so that they maintain the lifestyles they had before banks carried retrenchments which froze between 20 and 30% of jobs this year. The workers know the constraints their employers have. We believe that this is as strategy to
divide the workforce,” he said. — Staff Writer.

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