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Union petitions StanChart Bank over ‘colonialist -apartheid’ like sale to FBC

Business Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) has petitioned the Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) regional division raising grave concerns over the ‘colonialist-apartheid’ like transfer of the local unit to FBC Holdings (FBCH).

The move follows FBC’s agreement with StanChart to acquire the local business in Zimbabwe in June last year after the former was successful ahead of other possible suitors.

StanChart’s reached a strategic decision to divest from a few markets, namely Lebanon, Angola, Cameroon, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Jordan, and to exit the CPBB (Consumer Private and Business Banking) business in Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania.

Under the agreement, FBCH is set to acquire 100% shareholding in StanChart and by extension, the custodial services business that is wholly owned by Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe.

However , a letter dated March 14 2024 , addressed to the Stanchart CEO for South Africa and Southern Africa signed by the ZIBAWU General Secretary ,Peter Mutasa said the fate of workers remains opaque under the takeover arrangement.

The letter was also copied to Millicent Clarke – Head HR AME, the StanChart Group CEO Bill Winters, Tanujj Kapilashrami Group HR and one Lizzynet Maponga.

“We are deeply concerned by the manner in which you are keeping workers in the dark with regards the transfer to FBC Bank.On the 8th of June 2023 management promised workers that the Bank will pay off their leave days prior to migration to FBC.
“It appears management is now attempting to renege from this obligation without consulting workers .Our correspondence to local management has not been responded to and has no been acknowledged,” he said in the letter.

The Union leader said the silence by the local unit over the mattes affecting the workers prompted the decision to reach out to StanChart regional leaders.

Mutasa said despite StanChart promising to pay some gratuity to the worker thorugh the the Works Council , management had resorted to evasiveness and keeping the workers in the dark over the matter leaving eberyone unaware of how much and when the benefit will be paid.

“While this used to happen during colonial or apartheid era , we do not expect workers to be treated in such a manner in independent and democratic states .Workers are different from some assets that will just be moved from one bank to another without concern.

“They are humans with feelings and emotions who also have to plan their future.A Bank with a soul should never treat its workers in such a dehumanising manner,” Mutasa said in the letter.

Mutasa accused the bank for not adequately communicating with its former employees on pension and those awaiting their pensionable age who remain stuck in the dark and unsure if the Bank is still concerned about their welfare and that of the fund.

The workers group registered grave concerns in the manner the Bank is handling employee issues in this transaction highlighting the conduct is very different from how other multi-nationals which exited the Zimbabweans market handled employee welfare issues.

For example , the letter said ,Barclays Bank which exited recently made sure that workers welfare was top priority and would consult both workers and the Union on a respectful gratuity , employee share ownership scheme and lump sum contribution to the pension fund.

“We are forced to conclude that since your transaction has local political elites suport , you are doing as you please because of such political cover .If this is the case then it is unethiocal and against your corporate governance obligations.
“The Bank cannot take advantage of Zimbabwe’s shrinking democratic space to violate workers fundamentals and universal rights,” the letter said.

The workers group added that urgent intervention is called for to find a lasting solution to the obtaining challenges.

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