By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, February 03, 2016 – Bank employees are up in arms with the British owned Standard Charted Bank which has scaled down its Zimbabwean operations for the much friendlier Kenyan and Indian markets.
Hundreds of placard waving bank employees Tuesday petitioned British authorities, through their Zimbabwean embassy in Harare, to reconsider the move which they felt would lead to further job losses in a country already battling massive joblessness.
They were led by their umbrella group, the Zimbabwe Bankers and Allied Union (ZIBAWU).
In their demands, bank workers also want a stop to “modern day slavery” and unfair treatment on their affected colleagues.
This, they said, also involved the bank reviewing its relations with trade unions.
“Stan-Chart worker’s rights are rights too, Stop exporting operations to Kenya and India, Stop the sabotage to the economy and Stan Chart stop slavery retrenchments,” read one of the inscriptions on the placards.
The petition was handed over to the British embassy by ZIBAWU President Farai Katsande who is former employee with the African Development Bank (ADB).
“Recently the bank initiated a strategy of using Kenya and India as hubs servicing some of its African operations including Zimbabwe,” reads the petition in part.
“As a result most of its operations and processes migrated to these hubs. These include account processing unit Know Your Customer (KYC), Cash Management Unit, Loan Processing Unit, Procurement, Information Technology, Bank Reconciliations, Card Services, Certificate of Balance service.
“Those functions that require labour and which used to accommodate to majority of the Bank’s staff.”
The employees also were also grumbling over the bank’s decision to retrench staff despite evidence it was relatively better than most of the country’s financial institutions.
“Expectedly, the bank has been retrenching and closing various departments,” the workers said.
“Recently in January 2015, it retrenched total of 69 employees through the Voluntary Retrenchment Scheme.
“It is in the process of retrenching another 37 employees including 12 non managerial members who are our members.”
The workers feel the bank’s decision to hive off some of its local operations will further lead to more job losses.
By half year 2015, the bank had paid reported Group Cross Border recharges amounting to $ 6, 350, 461 and it is expected that as at year end the figure could have been above $12,000, 000.
This compared with figure of $8,000, 410 indicates and increase of over 30%.
This roughly equates to over 25% of the Bank’s total expenses and it will definitely balloon with the expected further migration.
ZIBAWU noted that according to the bank’s half year financial results, these costs exceed half of the bank’s staff costs for that period.