Banking sector faces crippling strikes

February 7, 2022

Brenna Matendere

Bank employees have given their respective managements a 21-day ultimatum to restore salaries to the pre-2018 scales or face crippling industrial action, Grazers News has established.

Tawanda Mutemi, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) national president, confirmed the development in an exclusive interview.

“We had an emergence meeting at the ministry of Labour (on February 3 2022) where we discussed our welfare and working conditions. The officials from the ministry were there to broker the talks since we are not civil servants. An agreement at the end of the day was then reached to the effect that in the next 21 days, our employers must have addressed our demands,” he said.

The lowest paid banking employee is getting a gross salary of ZW$26 000, which translates to US$224 on the official market but about US$130 on the prevalent black market.

“With that kind of money, how do you pay rentals, purchase food for the whole month (and) pay bills? It is a ridiculous salary,” he said.

The ZIBAWU president also revealed that before 2018, the lowest employee in the banking sector earned US$900.

“That is the amount of money we are saying must be paid to the least earner in our sector. We are demanding that we be paid in forex. The banks have the capacity to pay such salaries because they used to do so and can still afford to,” said Mutemi.  

He insisted that employees in the banking sector would embark on “crippling” industrial action if their demands were not met with the coming three weeks.

“We understand that the banking sector is very sensitive. However, we will have to go on strike if our demands are not met. We are giving them (bankers) this grace period so that dialogue can lead, but our concerns are very serious. No-one can survive on a salary of ZW$26 000,” he said.

A February 3 letter from Peter Mutasa, the ZIBAWU secretary general and former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU president, to union members reiterated the workers’ demands.

“Our demand is very clear. We want USD salaries and we are against the impoverishment of workers,” wrote Mutasa.

He added that salary adjustment negotiations must be more frequent than the traditional end-of-year bargains under the stable USD era because of changed circumstances that included.

Employees in the education and other sectors have also been making demands for foreign currency- based salaries.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) warned they would discourage their members from reporting for work when schools opened today.

The unions want their members to have their salaries restored to the 2018 monthly minimum gross of US$540 when the greenback was officially valued at par with the local dollar.

Recently, the ZCTU president, Florence Taruvinga, announced that the union pushed for US dollar-based salaries at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum that brings together employees, employers and the government.

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