Zimbabweans must brace for a Christmas cash crunch if the country’s banking sector makes good their threat to strike next week.
The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union (Zibawu) said on Thursday its members would down tools to press for a 100% salary increment for the period between June 2010 and July 2011.
“Zibawu hereby advises all customers of commercial banks operating in Zimbabwe that its members will embark on a collective job action anytime next week,” the union said in a statement.
Zibawu president Peter Mutasa said financial institutions that would be closed due to the strike action included Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic Bank, CBZ Bank, NMB Bank, IDBZ Bank, Barclays Bank, POSB Bank and Kingdom Bank.
“We are saying money is now there in the banking sector and there should be an equitable distribution of proceeds between bank employees and their executives,” Mutasa said.
Bank workers, he said, were still earning salaries in the range of $273 per month while bank executives were paid an average of $15 000 in basic salary, excluding allowances and other benefits.
“Our actions are not without reason as our members are still earning way below the poverty datum line against a background where most banks are posting huge profits. Banks are currently not paying interest on depositors’ funds yet they are charging exorbitant service fees which are not translating into meaningful benefits to bank employees,” Zibawu said.
The bank employees said they realised the inconvenience their action was likely to cause on “innocent customers, especially this festive season”, but said they would not continue to allow a situation where bank executives lived in luxury while customers, employees and government survived on “leftovers”.
Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) president John Mushayavanhu said the workers’ demand for a 100% increment was “a dream that could not be transformed into reality”.
He said BAZ had been negotiating with Zibawu but had failed to agree on the workers’ 100% salary increase demands. He refuted claims that workers were earning an average of $273, saying the minimum salary for bankers was $489 which was at par with regional salary levels.
“What they are getting now is a minimum wage and we are prepared to give them an inflation-adjusted wage,” Mushayavanhu said.
“We have already given them a 5% salary increase from June 2010, which is above the inflation rate,” he said.
Mushayavanhu said middle managers were getting an average salary of $1 000 per month while top managers were getting between $1 500 and $2 000 per month.