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Zibawu threatens demo against StanChart

The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) has threatened to stage a demonstration against Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe (StanChart)’s recent decision to lay off 36 workers.

Fidelity Mhlanga

The union said the demonstrations are scheduled for next week at the British Embassy in Harare.

Zibawu argued the proposed package of one month salary for every year served with a cap of 12 years, to the 12 non-managerial employees is far below the minimum prescribed by the Labour Amendment Act 5 of 2015.

The employees whose jobs are on the line consist of 12 non-managerial staff and 24 managers.

“We, Zibawu a duly registered trade union, hereby notify the police of our intention to demonstrate and present a petition at the British Embassy on 2 February 2016,” reads the petition copied to StanChart.

The amended Labour Act consents to two weeks’ salary for every year served, meaning the proposed package to the bank employees would prejudice about six employees who served for more than 24 years.

In January 2015, the bank offered voluntary retrenchment packages and a number of staff members were paid 2 months’ salary for every year served without a ceiling on the duration of service.

“The bank has failed to give a plausible justification for discriminating these 12 employees. The local management is saying their hands are tied as they are merely carrying out an order from their headquarters in United Kingdom. This position has warranted our intention to petition the Embassy in order for it to convey our displeasure to Standard Chartered Bank head office in London on the manner its local division is mistreating and discriminating this particular group of employees,” further reads the petition.

In a notice to retrench submitted to the Retrenchment Board, StanChart said its operation was experiencing an unsustainable cost base with staff costs accounting for 40% of total expenditure. The lay-offs were necessitated by the need to achieve efficiencies in deployment of human capital and associated costs. Of the 12 non-managerial employees set to be retrenched, only three served for less than 12 years. If the amended labour act which says the employer should give the retrenched employee at least two weeks’ salary for every year served is anything to go by, it means six of these listed employees will be prejudiced as they served more than 24 years.

The union’s secretary general Peter Mutasa also alleges that the bank’s several departments have been either merged or closed, with some of the Zimbabwean operations now being done externally.

“What is happening is that most of the bank operations are now being done outside the country for example the bank card processes are now done in Kenya and Zimbabwe is now a conduit,” Mutasa said.

More than 2 000 employees have been laid off from the banking sector since 2009, with 130 sacked using the July 17 Supreme Court ruling which saw thousands of employees sent packing without benefits.

About 30 000 employees across all sectors of the economy were laid off using the Supreme Court ruling which gave companies the leeway to dismiss workers on three months’ notice.

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.

Many banks in Zimbabwe have folded largely due to poor corporate governance.

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