According to the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU), the nation’s banking sector has experienced a staggering 75% reduction in employment since the turn of the millennium. This significant workforce decline is attributed to rapid digitization advancements and the socio-political turmoil that has plagued the country over the past two decades.
In discussions with NewZimbabwe.com following a comprehensive convention gathering workers from the banking sector, trade unionist Peter Mutasa voiced apprehension regarding the dwindling workforce.
Mutasa expressed, “The congress was held during extremely challenging conditions that have hampered our ability to adequately represent our members. The prolonged economic stagnation has taken a toll on the trade union movement.”
Highlighting a notable decrease in membership from its peak of 12,000 in the late 1990s to approximately 3,000 presently, Mutasa identified the sweeping transformations in the banking industry, particularly the adoption of digitalization and automation, as key factors behind the decline.
The union leader emphasized that high unemployment has significantly impacted collective bargaining processes, with traditional methods like strikes becoming less impactful. Mutasa criticized the stringent labor laws, compounded by a strained political atmosphere where unions are viewed with suspicion by the government, which often perceives them as adversaries.
Mutasa highlighted that the convention shed light on mental health issues among bankers, triggered by economic hardships, work pressures, and interpersonal conflicts in both professional and societal realms. Furthermore, it uncovered inadequate social security measures in the country, leaving numerous workers to retire without sufficient financial support and pensions.
“We recognized that the challenges we face are not solely rooted in the labor market but also deeply entwined with political factors. We agreed that the governance crisis affecting the economy, society, and public services needs to be addressed. Therefore, we have resolved to empower our members and communities through extensive civic and political education,” Mutasa concluded.