Harare – Bank workers in Zimbabwe have demanded a 60% wage increase and have given finance institutions in the country – which include units of Standard Bank, Nedbank, Barclays and Standard Chartered – a two-week ultimatum.
According to Zimstats, the cost of living has increased in Zimbabwe. Inflation has been on the rise, marginally gaining to 2.71% in April.
Economists say the inflationary pressures are being occasioned by businesses passing on the cost of high foreign currency exchange to consumers.
Union officials told Fin24 on Wednesday that the lowest-paid bank workers in Zimbabwe earned about $600.
They also said banks had been registering profit increases, “but this has not translated to our welfare improvement” or an improvement in living conditions for workers.
“Bank workers need motivation, so that their services are up to standard. In this environment, where it is tempting to cut deals, our members have remained mostly professional, and we are demanding that our employers also consider our plight against rising costs of living and inflation,” said one union member, working for one of the big foreign-owned banks in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean bank workers are now seeking relief by asking for a hefty wage increase.
Banks and supermarkets in Zimbabwe have benefited from increased usage of digital payment platforms, following forex and cash shortages. However, banks have been also facing growing pressure and competition from mobile money wallets and money transfer agencies that are eating into their market share.
Now bank workers say that if their demands are not met, they will take further action.
“Following the conclusion of the collective bargaining session in our sector, wherein parties declared a deadlock, we write to serve you notice of our intention to resort to collective job action,” said Peter Mutasa, general secretary of the Zimbabwe Bank and Allied Workers Union in a letter to the bank employers union this week.
“Upon expiry of the 14 days‘ notice and subject to other mandatory provisions of the law, our members will embark on sit-ins, sit-outs, demonstrations, call for boycotts and any other concerted actions,” the letter reads further.
The Bankers Employers Association of Zimbabwe had tabled a 3.4% wage increase, but the workers have rejected this, said officials from the bank workers union.
The notice of demand for a wage rise by the bank workers comes on the back of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration offering a 15% salary increase to government workers after they threatened to down tools this month.
Earlier, state hospital nurses also demanded a wage increase, but the government fired those that refused to go back to work and ordered them to re-apply, while also enlisting the services of retired nurses and those out of employment.
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