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Stanchart Zim workers deserve honesty, respect

While we acknowledge the bank's right to exit Zimbabwe, we strongly believe that the separation process with employees should have been handled more compassionately. 

STANDARD Chartered Bank Zimbabwe (Stanchart Zim) has officially completed its withdrawal from Zimbabwe, following its parent company's decision to exit the market in 2022, as part of a larger strategy to divest from underperforming emerging markets assets.

The bank was acquired by FBC Holdings, a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed entity. This move was precipitated by the bank's struggles in Zimbabwe, which were exacerbated by the volatile currency and high inflation rates. However, the separation process between the bank and its employees has been overshadowed by controversy and dispute.

While we acknowledge the bank's right to exit Zimbabwe, we strongly believe that the separation process with employees should have been handled more compassionately. 

As reported last week, the bank requested staff to sign contracts that included a clause requiring them to "unconditionally release and discharge the bank and/or the group in full from any and all claims, costs, expenses, or rights of action, of any kind." The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union, which represents the workers, took issue with this exit deal and advised its members not to sign the "oppressive" document.

We understand the bank's decision to leave, but we expect a more considerate approach when it comes to the welfare of its employees.

The union stated that the bank was being “dishonest” by mixing terms that have "far reaching implications” with the arbitrary ex-gratia payment in order to force workers to sign off all their rights including potential future rights at the new employer, FBC.

This was also against the Labour Act.

We fully support the union's stance on this matter.

The bank's handling of the situation lacks transparency and fairness. The contract presented to workers is indeed oppressive and unacceptable. We urge the bank management to adopt a more honest and compassionate approach, recognising the dedication and contribution of its long-serving employees. These workers have devoted their careers to the bank, and it is only fitting that they be treated with dignity and respect. Instead, they are being treated like strangers, which is unacceptable.

As we report elsewhere in this edition, the situation is further complicated by  suspicions of mismanagement of Stanchart Zim pensioners’ fund. The affected workers have petitioned Bill Winters, the group's chief executive officer, to intervene in this matter. We urge the parent company, and the Insurance and Pensions Commission, to take immediate action to resolve this issue.

It is imperative that these workers receive the protection they deserve. The government, through the relevant ministries, has a critical role to play in this case, and we call on them to intervene promptly.

Stanchart Zim still has the opportunity to do the right thing and provide a fair exit plan for its workers. We implore them to take responsibility and ensure that these dedicated employees receive the treatment they deserve. We believe the bank does not want to be remembered as being dishonest, cruel and cold-heartened.






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