Banks offload 2 000 workers

Banks offload 2 000 workers
Published: 05 October 2017
AT least 2 000 workers have lost their jobs in the banking sector over the past five years due to an escalating economic crisis underpinned by political turmoil, a trade union has said.

More workers in the sector faced the chop as the industry embraces technology, according to the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers' Union (ZIBAWU).

Political turmoil has switched from bickering between the ruling ZANU PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, to an internal battle of factions within President Robert Mugabe's ruling party as members jostle to position themselves to succeed their 93- year-old leader.

Last week, Mugabe told mourners during the burial of national heroine, Maria Msika, that he was not ready to relinquish power.

ZIBAWU said there had been significant cut backs in the number of workers in banks in the past year as the industry adjusted in line with the volatile situation.

ZIBAWU said banks, which under normal circumstances would require 10 tellers per branch, were deploying as little as three at workstations.

The majority of the sector had hired students to man workstations in order to contain costs in a tough economic climate, ZIBAWU deputy general secretary, Shepard Ngandu, told The Financial Gazette.

The country's banking sector is composed of 13 commercial banks, four buildings societies and one savings bank, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Ngandu said these banks employed about 6 000 workers in 2012 but the number had declined to 4 000.

"Overall, employees in the sector currently stand at about 4 000, a sharp decline from about 6 000 in 2012," Ngandu said.

"The reduction in members is largely due to retrenchments over the period and some bank closures.

"The staffing levels in the banking sector are generally a reflection of the political and economic situation prevailing in the country. Our situation has been made worse by the shortage of cash in the banks hence you see banks being manned by, say, three tellers or less instead of maybe eight or 10 tellers.

"Some banks have resorted to unethical abuse of students from universities and colleges under the guise of attachment but in essence, as a source of cheap labour. These students have no rights and can be dispensed with easily. Rumours doing rounds are that (one bank) wants to close some of its small town branches countrywide. In our view such moves could be motivated by profit maximisation without due consideration to economic realities on the ground," he added.

Ngandu said the banking sector was embracing technology which required less workers.

He said while technology had transformed banking, job opportunities were shrinking.

Worldwide, banks have established a presence in retail outlets and consumer facing organisations, instead of establishing traditional brick and mortar facilities.

"While technology is being embraced by all banks and will inevitably change the future of work, you will notice that the Zimbabwean situation is different from other countries in the region such as Botswana, Zambia and even South Africa," he said.

Previously battered by non-performing insider loans and other corporate governance deficiencies, the banking sector is currently battling subdued business in a liquidity starved market.
- fingaz
Tags: Zibawu,


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