Monday, September 28, 2020

Bank accused of reneging on giving employees shareholding

Kingdom Bank Africa Managing Director, Sibonginkosi Moyo, has denied allegations that he reneged on a promise he made to employees last year to give them shareholding in the company.
“The issue is still on the table,” Moyo says.

When it retrenched staff and cut salaries of those remaining behind last year, the bank is said to have promised employees that it would give them shareholding in the company. The cuts were on a graduated scale that ranged from 20 percent for staff to 40 percent for directors. According to sources, however, the MD later reneged on that promise.

The first thing that Moyo points out is that the pay cut was not arbitrary but a result of an amicable negotiation process with employees.

“They [employees] agreed to it,” he says.

Such amenability, he explains, arose out of realisation on the part of employees that the bank’s huge, unsustainable wage bill was “scaring away investors and people opted to accept the salary cut with no complaint”.

In terms of the Employment Act, an employer who wishes to cut staff pay must apply for authority to do so from the Commissioner of Labour. According to Moyo, this legal requirement was complied with and in turn, the Commissioner of Labour guided the entire process to ensure there was full compliance with the requirements of the Act.

“Complaints were never raised by members of staff,” he says.

They were, however, raised with Sunday Standard.

A source contests that the shareholding promise was used as bait to ensnare employees into an agreement to cut their salaries and that once the trap had snapped shut, the MD turned around and told them that the board had turned down the proposal.

Last month, the bank retrenched some staff members and Moyo says that the shareholding deal still stands and will be extended to employees who remained behind. Why the shareholding process has not been started, he explains, is that with new strategic partners coming in, the timing is just not right.

Although voluntary and amicable, last month’s retrenchment did not go off smoothly as the ex-employees had expected. They were promised that they would get their terminal benefits “on or before April 6” but it was only last week that the money was paid out. Moyo attributes the delay to “just technical hitches with the system in executing the transfer, otherwise everybody has now received their money.”

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