The switch to high-percentage electronic banking, fed by the prevailing cash shortage countrywide, is reportedly taking toll on job security in the banking sectors amid indications that several banks have resorted to hiring employees, primarily tellers, on a part-time basis, The Herald Business can reveal. This comes as 2 000 workers in the sector have already been sacked since 2012. A survey conducted by the Herald Business in the last three weeks, reveals that banking halls have suddenly become white elephants, with a maximum of three staffers manning counters out of a minimum of 10 in the past. It is now common to see a staffer on the enquiries desk and one or two tellers; despite the fact that some of the banking halls have up to 20 teller points. Experts have also suggested that the coming in of e-banking, which has effectively prevented depositors from visiting banking halls to transact manually, is also responsible for the decline in employment levels in the sector.
Contacted for comment, Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) president Dr Charity Jinya, requested for questions in writing. BAZ advocacy and marketing executive Clive Mphambela, acknowledged receipt of the questions on Wednesday but had not responded by the time of going to print. However, a source in the banking sector who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “There is some sort of crisis in the banking sector in terms of employees’ welfare. With cash shortages appearing to be unrelenting, we have increasingly seen most banks resorting to hiring employees, in particular tellers, on a part-time basis because there is virtually nothing for them to do.
“It is sad that people are going just like that, and even more painful is that the banks don’t seem keen to immediately pay termination packages but opt to keep employees on a temporary basis.” Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) assistant general secretary Shepherd Ngandu, told Herald Business that a combination of cash shortages and economic challenges have adversely impacted on employment levels in the sector. The staffing levels in the banking sector are generally a reflection of the political and economic situation prevailing in the country. While technology is being embraced by all banks and will inevitably change the future of work, you will notice that the Zimbabwean situation is different from other countries in the region such as Botswana, Zambia and even South Africa.
“Our situation has been made worse by the shortage of cash in the banks, hence you see banks being manned by say three tellers or less instead of maybe eight or 10 tellers. Some banks have resorted to unethically abusing students from universities and colleges under the guise of attachment but in essence, as a source of cheap labour. These students have no rights and can be dispensed with easily,” said Mr Ngandu. Although exact statistics could not be obtained, Mr Ngandu said in terms of retrenchments, Standard Chartered is the only bank that has so far laid off employees after “disposing some of what it regards as non-core banking business”.
“Overally, employees in the sector currently stand at about 4 000 with sharp decline from about 6 000 in 2012. The reduction in members is largely due to retrenchments over the period and some bank closures,” said Mr Ngandu. The alleged ill-treatment of employees comes at a time when banks are recording super profits mainly from extortionate interest rates they are levying on loans.
Ridiculous mortgage structures by some banks are also keeping the financial sector profitable. For the half year to June 30, 2017, net profit in the banking sector skyrocketed to $100,6 million, representing a staggering 48 percent spike from $69 million reported in comparative period. To put in into perspective, 18 out of 19 operating banking institutions posted profits during the first six months of the year. In the Mid Term Monetary Policy Statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, said the performance of the banking sector in the first half of 2017 was satisfactory. Total assets were $9,65 billion, total deposits shot up by 6,71 percent from $6,55 billion as at March 31, 2017 to $7 billion by June 30, 2017.–herald