ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU) reports that 75% of jobs in the sector have been lost since the beginning of the millennium. This decline is attributed to a combination of accelerated digitization and socio-political challenges facing the nation over the past two decades.
In discussions with NewZimbabwe.com about the outcomes of a high-level convention that brought together workers from the country’s banking sector, trade unionist Peter Mutasa expressed concern about the diminishing workforce.
He remarked, “The congress coincided with extremely difficult operating conditions, which have constrained our ability to effectively serve our members. The economy, experiencing stagnation for decades, has taken a significant toll on trade unionism.”
Mutasa highlighted the decline in membership from a peak of 12,000 in the late 1990s to approximately 3,000 at present. He pointed out significant transformations in the banking sector, such as digitalization and automation, as the main culprits.
The unionist noted that high unemployment has adversely affected collective bargaining, with traditional methods like strikes becoming less effective. Mutasa criticized the restrictive nature of labour laws, further complicated by a toxic political environment in which the government views every union with suspicion, treating them as enemies of the state.
Mutasa shared that the convention revealed bankers facing various mental health problems due to economic and social crises, work demands, and interpersonal conflicts at both work and in society. Additionally, the convention shed light on the inadequate social security in the country, with many workers retiring without meaningful financial security and pensions.
“We noted that most of the problems we face are not emanating from the labour market but from politics. We agreed that we have a governance crisis affecting the economy, society, and public services. Therefore, we resolved to build an active citizenry through massive civic and political education for our members and communities,” he concluded.
Africanews and Alois Vinga
Additional sources • New Zimbabwe