By Alois Vinga
PLANS for a crippling strike are hovering above the country’s banking sector following the recent denial by the employers’ side to honour partial payment of US$ salaries, Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) has revealed.
The sad development came shortly after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) Mid-Term Monetary Policy Statement established that banking sector’s profitability increased 12-fold during the first half of 2022 on the back of rising US$ loan advances, which have since overtaken the Zim$ component.
“The banking sector recorded un-audited aggregate profits of ZW$181.25 billion for the half-year ended 30 June 2022, a 12 fold increase from aggregate profits of ZW$15.09 billion reported in the corresponding period in 2021,” the MPS said.
But speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business Monday, ZIBAWU secretary general, Peter Mutasa, said the sector’s employers are reluctant to pay US$ salaries.
“Employers are refusing to peg salaries in US$ and also refusing to pay part of the salaries in US. This is despite the fact that all bank charges and fees are pegged on the US$ and move with the exchange rate.
“On our part, we have a clear mandate from the workers that salaries in the sector must be based on US$ and part of it be paid in US$. Our understanding is that if a broke employer like the government can stretch out and pay in foreign currency, what justification does profiteering banks have to decline the proposals?” he asked.
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Mutasa said the actions are tantamount to sending a clear message that all they want is to see the sector’s workers striking or protesting for such inequalities to be addressed at a national scale.
He said employees in the sector have settled for US$636 with an option to pay 50% in US$ and another portion in Zim$.
“But employers want to pay ZW$295,000 wholly paid in local currency but we are saying NO. We can’t accept this because we are seeing thousands of US$ flowing into the coffers daily.
“Most transactions are now being charged in US$. We know the banks can pay this amount which is inclusive of all allowances like housing and transport,” he said.
Currently, the lowest paid employee is earning ZW$220,000 all-inclusive, which is said to be far below meeting the basic needs in the partially dolarised economy.
“We have started our consultations, but it is clear we are going to mount serious countrywide pickets and other collective actions permissible at law,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the employers’ representatives were fruitless.