THE Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union (Zibawu) says over 260 workers in the financial sector have been retrenched in the second half of last year due to digitalization initiatives by the banking institutions.
In an interview last week, the union’s assistant secretary-general Mr. Shepherd Ngandu said although the digitalization programme has cost a lot of jobs, the initiative was a step in the right direction by the country’s financial services sector.
“The figures for formal retrenchments due to digitalisation are 120 for First Capital, 80 for CBZ, 18 for BancABC and 45 for Mukuru from July to December 2019.
“The sector is going digital; it is something that we had foreseen many years back and it is also happening worldwide.
“Our position is that like every process of restructuring it must be done more responsibly in as much as possible try to minimise job losses through considering redeploying those employees and reskilling them to be useful in the sector in other areas,” he said.
Of late, local financial institutions have been pursuing the digitalisation drive and it is hoped that this will enhance customer experience and convenience thus helping customers to save time and money.
Among other positives, by phasing out manual transaction processes, digitalisation also reduces human error and thus builds customer loyalty.
Banks such as Standard Chartered Bank went paperless as early as 2017 while other institutions like CBZ, CABS, ZB, Ecobank and FBC, recently followed suit. More banks are also expected to embrace the digitalisation initiative.
Mr Ngandu said some institutions as they took the digitalisation path were able to redeploy their employees to other critical aspects of promoting business growth such as marketing.
For instance, some institutions have reduced the number of their tellers and reassigning them to the marketing function of the business so that more concentration was put on product selling to mitigate job losses.
“Some employers have gone on a rampant move that caused job losses, Standard Chartered Bank has been in a retrenchment mode in recent years. Although they made it a voluntary retrenchment, we don’t know yet of the number of job losses that have occurred to date,” he said.
Mr Ngandu said BancABC also embarked on a retrenchment exercise which has affected the managerial posts.
He said they had also been informed that Metbank was mulling merging most of its branches across the country, which move was likely to trigger more job losses in the financial services sector.
“All these restructuring exercises by banks will one way or the other result in job losses but at the end of the day it’s how the process is handled, if it is retrenchment, employers should consider giving affected employees respectable exit packages,” said Mr Ngandu.