By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) has written to South Africa’s NedBank giving notice of its intention to picket at its offices over what it argues is intransigence by the diversified group’s local subsidiary.
In the letter dated July 23, 2019 signed by Zibawu president, Peter Mutasa and directed to the NedBank chief executive officer Mike Brown, the workers’ union argues that all local financial institutions have awarded their employees salary increments except for NedBank.
“NedBank is refusing to consider anything from workers as the local management says it has not been given approvals to engage workers from head office. This is in stark contrast with another South African based bank, Standard Bank that has been exemplary and is leading the way in mitigating the suffering of workers. It even sent head office senior management to find out how difficult it was for workers.
“We have therefore resolved that we must send a group of comrades to picket for three days at your Head office, number 135 Sandown, 2196 Sandton from 5-7 August 2019,” the letter reads in part.
Mutasa said the aim of the industrial action is to impress on the NedBank’s top brass on the need for them to seriously consider the humanitarian crisis unfolding in its Zimbabwean operations.
Mutasa, who also serves as Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, accused the financial institution’s local management of taking advantage of the fact that it is becoming extremely difficult and dangerous for workers to demonstrate or go on collective job action under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.
“We had no one else to approach than you our sister in the struggle and dependable comrades. We would be grateful if you could assist with all the legal processes that are necessary for our picketing to proceed. This could be advice, material support, applications required in terms of public gathering laws,” Mutasa said in the letter.
In January, the ZCTU called for a stay-away that turned into an orgy of violence forcing Mnangagwa to unleash the army with devastating consequences. Live ammunition was used, leaving 17 people dead and scores nursing gapping gunshot wounds.
The union said that currency reforms and escalating inflationary pressures have seriously eroded banking sector earnings to the extent that lowest paid bankers who used to earn US$636 (R8800) last year now earn US$90 (R1250) as a result of the devaluation.
Early this month, the ZCTU gave notice that it would call for another stay-away to protest deteriorating economic conditions in the country only for its leadership to receive death threats. It seems the labour federation has since abandoned the idea altogether.