A massive strike is looming in Zimbabwe’s banking sector after bank workers gave their respective managements a 21-day ultimatum to restore salaries to the pre-2018 scales or face industrial action.
Tawanda Mutemi, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) national president, confirmed the development in an interview with the Grazers News. He said:
We had an emergency meeting at the Ministry of Labour (on February 3 2022) where we discussed our welfare and working conditions.
The officials from the ministry were there to broker the talks since we are not civil servants.
An agreement at the end of the day was then reached to the effect that in the next 21 days, our employers must have addressed our demands.
In October 2018, the Government reintroduced the Zimbabwean dollar and since then, the new currency has steadily lost value, effectively reducing wages.
The lowest-paid banking employee is currently getting a gross salary of ZW$26 000, which translates to US$224 on the official market but about US$130 on the parallel market.
Mutemi revealed that before 2018, the lowest employee in the banking sector earned US$900. He said:
That is the amount of money we are saying must be paid to the least earner in our sector. We are demanding that we be paid in forex.
The banks have the capacity to pay such salaries because they used to do so and can still afford to.
The ZIBAWU president said they gave their employers a grace period to give dialogue a chance but if that fails, they will resort to industrial action.