First Capital Bank axes 120 workers

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

FIRST Capital Bank Zimbabwe (FCB), formerly Barclays Bank, has laid off 120 workers as the economic crisis continues to take a toll on the beleaguered financial services sector, NewsDay can exclusively reveal.

The workers were served with the retrenchment letters early last month and ceased reporting for duty on August 31.

“We confirm that Barclays retrenched a total of 120 workers of which 97 were our members. Workers have since been notified that the last day to report for duty was 31 August 2019,” said a source.

The bank’s spokesperson Emily Nemapare said they were still in the process of finalising the restructuring exercise in terms of legal and other applicable requirements.

“This has come on the back of a review of the operating model aimed at creating operational efficiencies. The exercise also seeks to respond to local and global trends impacting the banking industry,”Nemapare said.

According to information at hand, negotiations for retrenchment packages held in the past months reached a deadlock.

“As highlighted in your notice of intention to retrench letter, it was advised that in the event that the parties fail to agree to a retrenchment package ,the employer will pay out the minimum statutory
retrenchment package as enshrined in section 12C( 2) of the Labour Act on or before the effective retrenchment date,” a communique from the bank reads.

However, the bank railroaded its way to table its offer comprising of 12 month’s salary, three months cash in lieu of notice, use of staff accounts for three months, medical aid cover for six months, pension in
line with the standing pension rules, school fees for 2019 third term. Affected workers above 55 years would benefit 5 000 shares for the first 10 years of service and 100 shares for every year thereafter under the
employee share ownership scheme.

Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) acting secretary Shephard Ngandu said the bank erred in its retrenchment process as it did not consult prior to the exercise, allegations which FCB has denied.

“We have been engaging the employer on behalf of our members that First Capital Bank did not follow the requirements of the law particularly section 25A and 12D of the Labour Act.

Some provisions of section 25A provide that “without prejudice to the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement that may be applicable to the establishment concerned, a works council shall be entitled to be
consulted by the employer about proposals relating to any of the following matters (a) the restructuring of the workplace caused by the introduction of new technology and work methods; the retrenchment of
employees, whether voluntary or compulsory,” Ngandu said.

He said the employer was supposed to afford the members of the works council a reasonable opportunity to make representations and to advance alternative proposals.

The current job haemorrhage is linked to currency shocks stemming from the floating of the Zimbabwe dollar which has resulted in the translation of foreign currency denominated assets at the interbank rate. As
revealed by the stock brokerage firm IH securities recently in cases where the banks have net liabilities denominated in foreign currency, [this] resulted in a larger increase in liabilities than asset.

The bank’s principal source of net interest income remained largely flat at $19,34 million in the period ended June 2018 from a 2018 comparative of $18,85 million.

Net interest income is derived from taking deposits and lending money as the most basic function of a bank. Banks usually charge higher interest on the money it lends than the interest it pays on deposits.

IH securities has indicated that banks’ lending capacity has been decimated after the adoption of mono-currency regime which now means the set minimum capital requirement for commercial banks, which was set at
US$100 million to be achieved by 2020, had effectively been reduced to US$10 million. The implication is that the real value of capital is now US$10 million. This has caused most banks to re-assess risk and and
further strain liquidity. Last month, the country’s largest financial institution CBZ Holdings chopped off more than 100 workers citing need to enhance operational efficiency.

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