Zimbabwean bank workers give notice to strike after demanding salaries in US dollars

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BANK workers in Zimbabwe have joined teachers in demanding US dollar salaries from their employers as the cost-of-living spikes.

Teachers in Zimbabwe stayed away from work on yesterday when the new school calendar opened, demanding about $540 (R8 328) in salaries in hard currency. Headmasters also stayed away from work, saying they are too incapacitated to report for work.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries noted that residential “rentals, bread and cereals, vegetables, meat as well as fuel remain the top inflation driver” products.

Bank workers have also given notice that they want to be paid in US dollars to cushion them against the continuing rise in the cost of living. They had scheduled a strike, but yesterday resolved to give “dialogue” a chance despite earlier disagreements over the issue with their employers.

Shepherd Ngandu, an assistant secretarygeneral for the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu), told Business Report in a text message: “We have suspended the (strike) action for now to pave way for dialogue.”

The bank workers union said in a letter to financial services sector employees dated February 4: “Our demand is very clear; we want US dollar salaries and we are against the impoverishment of workers.”

This followed a meeting of Zibawu with the Bank Employers Association of Zimbabwe with the intervention of the Ministry of Labour which stipulated that the two parties hold dialogue sessions to come up with “better terms and conditions”. A report back to the ministry is now expected within the next three weeks.

“We will have no option but to roll out action if there is no agreement to what we want as bank workers. We are aware that the banks are also earning foreign currency income,” an employee said.