“Staff members are reminded that until a determination has been made through the courts and this internal matter concluded, any deviation from the expected behaviour, and/or action bent on disrupting and interfering with the bank’s smooth operations will be deemed illegal,” he said in a company memo 10 days ago.
Tapambwa not only argues that Zimbabwe’s labour court has not yet declared a deadlock between the parties, but Stanbic would not yield to demands that are parallel to the ongoing and banking sector-wide bargaining process.
However, the workers shot back through the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu).
“We take note of your memorandum circulated by your management misinforming our members that the intended action has been averted. No one knows at this stage how the minister is going to handle the application for a show-cause order,” Zibawu said.
The union, also affiliated to Wellington Chibebe’s Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, also claims it has petitioned the local bank’s SA parent over outstanding performance-related bonuses and yet unsubstantiated allegations of victimisation.
The potential clash comes as banking employers have unequivocally stated that they were unable to increase workers’ salaries due to depressed earnings and that local wages were “already competitive enough” anyway.
The views by John Mushayavanhu’s Bankers Association of Zimbabwe come as Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned this week that the country’s financial sector was still shaky and vulnerable to widespread loan defaults.
Local banks were not only reeling from tight liquidity conditions and weak capitalisation, but seven of the country’s 28 banking institutions had failed to meet Gideon Gono’s prescribed minimum requirements.
Although workers such as Stanbic’s are pressing on with demands, BAZ has stated its intention to contest any such awards, including a recent 30% wage hike granted to the sector’s employees by an arbitrator.
In an April 8 memo, Stanbic workers gave Tapambwa a two-week ultimatum to pay up or face crippling shutdowns.
“This follows a deadlock that was declared at the works council over cost-of-living adjustment negotiations,” the committee said.
Observers feared any such actions could trigger a wave of similar actions across the fragile sector, which is already hamstrung by unrelenting recurrent costs amid fleeting deposits and low capacity utilisation in a dollarised economy.