Bank CEO reads riot act to protesting workers

Standard Chartered Bank chief executive Ralph Watungwa has read the riot act to workers that have been camped at the financial institutions premises protesting against poor remuneration.

The employees are reportedly pushing for salary increments in line with the cost of living. They have been spending nights at the banking hall to push their demands.

Watungwa is now worried about the protest and has written a communiqué to line managers to dissuade their subordinates from the practice.

“I understand that there are a number of staff members who have decided to sleep in the office due to economic hardships. I would like to make it very clear to line managers that it is against bank policy and illegal for any staff member to sleep in the office.

Any such staff will be evacuated and disciplined,” Watungwa said in a communiqué gleaned by this
publication.

“I would like to draw your attention to the security and health and safety issues that will result from such an action. Any person who cannot come to work should notify their supervisor and stay at home until such time as they can afford to do so. The bank paid an allowance yesterday in recognition of the hardships and trust that this action will alleviate some of the financial stress.

I would like to reiterate that any grievances that staff may have must be channelled through the proper channels as we have always done in the past and resolved at the appropriate levels and at the right time.”

Efforts to get a comment from Watungwa were fruitless.

“Now that the workers are being paid the devalued ZWL$, morale has gone to its lowest ebb since 2009. The workers are yet to meet management at works council level as non-managers.

They have requested an emergency meeting, but nothing has come forth. At management level, however, they held a works council meeting at which the employer refused to increase salaries
despite the challenges being faced by employees,” a source said.

Before the advent of statutory instruments 33 and 142 of 2019, workers were being paid in hard currency with the lowest paid worker getting about US$700 per month.

“On the ground, workers have not been given real increments like what is being done at other institutions like Stanbic and Nedbank. They are instead getting cushioning allowances in the
form of 40%, which comes on pay day, and another 40%, which is paid before the 10th of every month,” added the source.

These amounts are not rated and the message to the employer is that employees need a 100% salary increase indexed to the exchange rate. The workers argue that the bank has the capacity
to pay them.