Stanchart Zim workers deserve honesty and respect.

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 broader strategy to divest from underperforming emerging market assets.

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

While we recognize the bank’s right to exit Zimbabwe, we strongly believe that the employee separation process should have been handled more compassionately.

As reported last week, the bank asked staff to sign contracts that included a clause requiring them to “unconditionally release and discharge the bank and/or the group as a whole from any claims, costs, expenses or rights of action, of any kind.” The Zimbabwe Union of Banks and Allied Workers, which represents workers, disagreed with this withdrawal agreement and advised its members not to sign the “oppressive” document.

We understand the bank’s decision to leave, but we hope for a more considered approach when it comes to the well-being of its employees.

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

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This was also against the Labor Law.

We fully support the union’s position on this matter.

The bank’s handling of the situation lacks transparency and fairness. The contract presented to the workers is truly oppressive and unacceptable. We urge the bank’s management to adopt a more honest and compassionate approach, recognizing the dedication and contribution of its long-standing employees. These workers have dedicated their careers to the bank and it is logical that they are treated with dignity and respect. Instead, they are treated like strangers, which is unacceptable.

As we reported elsewhere in this edition, the situation is further complicated by suspicions of mismanagement of the Stanchart Zim pension fund. The affected workers have asked Bill Winters, the group’s executive director, to intervene in the 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 ask them to intervene promptly.

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

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