StanChart employees to approach RBZ over bank’s opaque exit strategy from Zimbabwe

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By Alois Vinga

STANDARD Chartered Bank Zimbabwe (StanChart) employees have tabled a plan to approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in a bid to discuss the disinvestment strategy which they suspect could shortchange them

The move comes ahead of the bank’s plans to exit the country amid indications that details on workers packages and future remain sketchy.

Speaking to Business this week, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) acting secretary general, Shepherd Ngandu revealed that a proposal to cede part of the shares to employees was tabled.

“We held a meeting with the bank’s top management recently and expressed dismay over the manner in which StanChart disinvested from the country over the past five years leading to massive branch closures,” said Ngandu.

“We also deliberated on whether there are deliberate mechanisms for StanChart to empower its remaining workers through a share ownership scheme in the frame of Barclays exit which ceded 20% shareholding to employees especially considering that the bank has operated in this country for over 100 years.”

Ngandu said the bank management advised that it is something they had not considered but will be referred to appropriate structure of the group for consideration.

The union leader said he informed the bank’s management that StanChart used to be in the top three in terms of profitability, employment numbers and asset size but has been relegated to a lower ranking financial institution owing to externally imposed strategies.

“Despite digitalisation, there has not been direct benefits accruing to remaining staff as salaries are still low. As the bank is now prepping to exit Zimbabwe, we need to know what measures are in place to ensure a credible investor is identified to protect the interests of all stakeholders.

“However, the Stanchart CEO responded that downsizing and the decision to disinvest was made by the shareholder at group level and everything is being done to identify the best investor.

“Further it was stressed that the bank will do the best to protect the interests of the employees and at present the idea is to sell the entity as going concern respecting existing labour laws,” he said.

The union now intends to meet all the workers in all branches and departments together with workers committee so that we get the views and concerns of the workers. We will discuss with the bank to facilitate this urgently.

“Thereafter we will engage the group in order that the workers be fully involved in the process in terms of our laws .We further intend to meet the regulator and impress on them the need to protect the rights and interests of workers,” added Ngandu.