The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union says it will hold pickets against Barclays Bank while continuing with those against NMB Bank after negotiations for a salary increment for non-managerial workers in both banks reached a deadlock. The union recently held two pickets against NMB at the bank’s headquarters along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue in Harare and in Bulawayo after negotiations for a 30 percent salary increase collapsed.
Picketing is when workers from other organisations demonstrate on behalf of their colleagues. Dozens of Zibawu members attended the demonstration at NMB Bank while none of the workers were present.
In an interview, Zibawu assistant general secretary Mr Shepherd Ngandu said the collective job action against NMB was already full scale while the Barclays management had been served with a notice of the collective job action on August 26 after workers and management had failed to agree on a figure.
He said Barclays workers were seeking a 35 percent salary increase while management was offer 3,75 percent.
“However, we have to wait for 14 days after serving the bank with the notice before we can take any action so we are still waiting for the period to lapse,” he said.
He said labour officers were in the process of facilitating a voting process at Barclays to ascertain if the workers wanted the collective job action to take place.
Mr Ngandu said once approved, pickets against Barclays would be held across the country and internationally since it was a global institution.
“We intend to engage trade unions in all the countries where Barclays operates so that they can join us in demonstrating against such unfair practices by management.
Employers should negotiate with their employees fairly. We feel management awarding themselves hefty salary increments while they give workers insignificant salaries is widening the wage gap between managerial and non-managerial staff and it’s about time something is done about it,” he said.
Mr Ngandu added that its members would continue the pickets against NMB Bank Limited as the workers’ grievances were yet to be addressed. NMB Bank management is being accused of awarding themselves 30 percent salary increments last year and then receiving another 30 percent this year while workers were offered a paltry 3,5 percent.
“We resorted to having our members demonstrate on behalf of the affected workers to avoid retribution. NMB management have acquired a reserve workforce to substitute the ones who might want to participate in the demonstrations and with the current rate of unemployment, we did not want to jeopardise our members’ livelihood so they won’t participate,” he said.
Mr Ngandu said the strike would achieve the desired objective without causing great inconvenience to clients. The union has justified calls for salary reviews on the back of surging bank deposits since dollarisation in 2009.
However, some banks have instituted various restructuring measures that include job cuts, rationalising and streamlining of operations as a means of containing costs and boosting operational efficiencies.
Barclays Bank managing director Mr George Guvamatanga and his NMB counterpart Mr Benefit Washaya could not be reached for comment.
However, in July, Mr Washaya said the industrial action by NMB workers was illegal and unnecessary as discussions between Zibawu and the Banking Employers Association of Zimbabwe (BEAZ) to resolve the issue were underway at industry level.
BAZ executive director Mr Sij Biyam, however, professed ignorance on the matter.
“It is unfortunate that l am finding out from the media when the concerned banks have not notified us about these issues,” he said.
He said the association would carry out the necessary investigations to find out how the situation could be handled.