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Banking sector, employees squabble over salaries

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BANKING sector employers and employees’ representatives have clashed over the paltry salary increment being offered for the current year.

Documents containing current minutes of the ongoing meetings between the Bank Employers’ Association of Zimbabwe (BEAZ) and the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union show that the former offered ZW$26 112 as the gross salary for the least paid worker in the sector.

The employers’ negotiator, Evans Mudimu, submitted that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly subdued business activity.

“Both operating and staff costs have gone up hugely as banks grapple to respond to the deadly pandemic. On the other side, income has been largely subdued as it is not business as usual in the general economy,” Mudimu said.

Mudimu stressed that banks were operating with an average of 25% of the workforce in complementing overall social distancing efforts and dictates by the government and World Health Organisation, which he said was another blow.

He argued that inflation has been slowing down from 837% recorded in June last year to the current 348.59% as at December 2020.

The BEAZ representative said banks have had to contend with a wide range of unforeseen and unbudgeted costs and these have ranged from compliance requirements to keeping the operating premises healthy and safe to both staff and the public. The requirement for personal protective equipment in huge quantities was another factor.

“With regards to other economic indicators, we also note that the Zimbabwean dollar has generally stabilised against the greenback and this stability is reflected in the general stability of prices as further evidenced by the falling inflation,” Mudimu said.

BEAZ said the promised amount be the full and final settlement for the year and any other interventions during the year must be dealt with at institutional level as has worked out very well in the past.

The banking sector says the economic climate has vastly changed over the years, making the current CBA negotiating framework brought about in terms of Statutory  Instrument 150 of 2013 unsustainable.

On the other hand, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’  Union (Zibawu), being represented by Peter Mutasa, dismissed the offered amount, arguing that there have been notable changes which include the inflationary trend which has seen the return of dual currency and multi-currency pricing as the RTGS dollar continues to plummet.

“The inflation has had a negative impact on the employees’ buying power and the annual inflation according to ZimStat stands at 348.6% but  this constitutes the blended inflation for both US$ and RTGS$,” he said.

Employees said that the comparatively low inflation rate highlighted by employers does not reflect the decline of prices but only that the rate at which prices are going up has slowed.

The Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for a family of five has shit beyond ZW$22 000 with the 2021 National budget being denominated in US dollars. Rentals, for example, are levied in US dollars and employees buy the forex at parallel market rates ranging between ZW$110-120: US$1 in order to pay rent,” he said.

Zibawu submitted that the state power utility Zesa increased tariffs by a further 50% in October 2020, after it affected another increase by 50% in September 2020, which  has seen the price of the standard 300 units now costing ZW$1 623.

“The cost of fuel also went up in January 2021 and this will likely result in the increase of basic commodities . In the face of all these increases, the workers’ earnings have significantly lost value as a consequence and as a such the agreement in SI 150 of 2013 should be amended to reflect the changes,” Mutasa added.

The employees are demanding a return to the October 2018 salary increments which were rated against the US dollar.— STAFF WRITER 

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