The Zimbabwe Banks Allied Workers’ Union (Zibawu) has agreed to cancel its strike after the Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) agreed to have the matter referred for arbitration.
Zibawu had threatened to embark on a “surprise” industrial action this week, crippling the operations of eight banking institutions.
These include Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic Bank, CBZ Bank, NMB Bank, IDBZ Bank, Barclays Bank, POSB Bank and Kingdom Bank.
Zibawu president Peter Mutasa in an interview said bank employees had rejected BAZ’s offer of a 5% pay rise for the period June 2010 to July 2011 and demanded 100%. They were also demanding that housing allowances be increased to $255 from the current $155.
“It was resolved yesterday (Wednesday) that the issue is now to go before an arbitrator who will be appointed by the Ministry of Labour,” Mutasa said.
“We requested the ministry to take it as an urgent matter and by next week the two parties will go for a hearing before the arbitrator.”
Mutasa said BAZ for a long time was against the idea of referring the wage dispute to an independent arbitrator.
He also said the wage rift between shop-floor bank workers and bank executives was outrageous.
According to him, the monthly salary scale started from $273 per month to as high as $15 000, with a huge spread in between.
BAZ president John Mushayavanhu said banks were struggling to reconcile high overheads with lean income and urged a non-confrontational way to resolve the wage dispute.
He also assured customers they could still access their money without difficult through electronic transactions, even if bank employees proceeded with the strike.
“Even if bankers go on strike, people will access their money electronically,” Mushayavanhu said.
“Banks are overstaffed; the few who remain will still be enough to run the day to day operations of banks. We hope there will not be any strike.”