The untold story of a test of the labour laws in Zambia
Over the past few days, Absa has been in the media over a number of labour issues, the latest being that of the 32 Managers who have sued the Bank demanding to be declared redundant on the basis that the Bank has unilaterally varied their conditions of service.
Whether the new conditions were applied to the 32 managers without their consent is now a matter for determination by the High Court and we cannot comment further.
So, what was in the old conditions of service in comparison with the new conditions of service? What is it that the 32 managers are protesting against? This is the untold story and looking at the documents containing these conditions and at the Labour Commissioner’s conclusion of facts, the following were the differences noted;
Changes in the Conditions of Service
1. Hours of work were increased from 40 per week to 48 per week without any increase in pay.
2. The existing basic pay was split to designate 30% as Housing Allowance and the remaining 70% as Basic Pay, the total now being termed Base Pay
3. Entitlement for Compassionate Leave was removed in the case of the death of a sibling
4. Entitlement for a funeral grant was removed in the case of death of a sibling
5. The total compassionate leave that one could take in the event of the death of a spouse, children and parents was capped at a sum of 12 days per year.
6. The number of children that could be covered by the Bank’s Medical Scheme was capped at 4 children per employee
7. The maximum age for children on the Medical scheme was reduced from 21 to 18, with the exception of those in full time education who could go up to 21.
8. Paid Sick Leave entitlement was dropped from 12 months to 3-6 months depending on circumstances
9. The rate of pay for Redundancy was reduced from 2.5 months pay for each year served to 2.0 months per each year served.
10. The rate of pay for voluntary separation was changed from 2.5 months pay for each year served to ‘management discretion’.
11. Discounts on loan payoffs at redundancy [25% of the loans if all paid off, K30,000 maximum] was dropped.
12. Long service financial awards were dropped.
13. Study leave days were capped at 4 days per calendar year from the previous position of 2 days / 4 half days per subject per sitting.
14. Repatriation benefit was dropped in the case of Mutual separation
15. Annual Leave entitlement was dropped from 30 days to 24 days
16. Changed Relocation entitlements to be as per Bank Relocation standard which is yet to be shared
In exchange for all these down grades, The Bank offered employees a K1,300 fuel allowance / car allowance increment.
It is not clear whether the management staff who consented to these changes did so because of K1,300 net increase or other reasons.
However, 32 rejected this downgrade and complained to the labour commissioner on account of the change and elements of these changes being applied to them without their consent. This is the subject of the court case and as such we cannot comment further.
The question now is whether this is what we are to expect of the Africanacity philosophy of ABSA Bank or this is to be the lasting legacy of Mizinga at the helm of the Bank.