Allow me to use your platform to warn fellow Zambians and alert the relevant arms of government about the strange activities at one of the Nigerian banks (UBA) operating in the country.
1.Since Bank of Zambia issued a directive for banks to recapitalize in January 2012, UBA has not brought even 1US$ or K1 towards recapitalization 22 months after the law was passed.
2. The bank does not review salaries annually as is the practice in Zambia.Instead, UBA has initiated a process to reduce basic salaries for its local Zambian employees (excluding Nigerian expatriates).
3. The bank has quietly withdrawn its CEO and replaced him with a Branch Manager from Nigeria who seems strangely preoccupied with a very suspicious agenda which requires urgent investigations by relevant government agencies.
Since taking office:
- · He has called our government officials and Zambian employees all sorts of names including ‘rats’ over a small outstanding interest balance on a short loan UBA gave to Ministry of Finance some time ago. These matters have been reported to immigration department but they seem to have died a natural death.
- · He has reduced staff basic salaries and pension contributions by over 80% and has since May 2013 issued a set of 4 letters to employees trying to coerce them to sign and accept new salary structures which will result in pension contributions to a private pension fund being lower than monthly NAPSA contributions. Some employees who have refused to accept these reductions are now being victimized, being threatened with dismissals, being replaced or being moved into new roles where they lack required competences so that they can eventually be dismissed for poor performance. CFO has resigned in protest. These matters have been reported to labour office but the labour officers who were once vocal trying to mediate have suddenly vanished/gone mute perhaps waiting for street protests before they act.
- · Funeral grants for death of employees, spouse and children have been reduced to only K40 (US$8-this not a typo) while funeral assistance for death of parents has been completely scrapped from the conditions of service.
- · He has introduced a ‘HIRE, USE and quickly DISCARD” policy-no employee confirmations since this man came in the country. I am a victim of this policy but was lucky to get another job quickly.
- Employees are being suspended or are losing jobs for merely recommending customer loans if borrowing customer eventually defaults on repayments.
- The bank is refusing to pay leave allowance to its employees despite it being in their conditions of service. Ex-employees of the bank have since dragged it to the Industrial Relations Court over unpaid leave allowances- with one of them (Charles Zavare) already paid through an order/judgment of the Industrial Relations Court but the bank has refused to pay the rest (both existing and ex-employees). Meanwhile a forged new staff hand book containing new and contradictory conditions of service purporting to have been approved by the former CEO, Legal Counsel and an ‘A Nigerians only Board’ in June 2012 was emailed to employees a week ago. This is meant to hoodwink the courts and other stakeholders into believing that since June 2012 employees of the bank have not been entitled to this benefit which is a blatant lie. This has further fuelled massive resignations among existing employees.
- Experienced Branch Managers have been frustrated, forced out and replaced with bank clerks and in some cases management trainees with less than 4 months work experience.
- · Employees like drivers work up to as late as 22:00 hrs without over time payments or assistance with transport to get to their homes–reason given is that all UBA Zambia employees are on management grades and so not entitled to overtime.
- · Union activities/affiliation is strictly forbidden.
Because of the above, staff morale is low, bank losses and staff resignations have doubled, while the bank has difficulties hiring because of its negative staff welfare reputation.
BOZ, ACC, DEC, OP, ZUFIAW and ZIHRM must take interest and thoroughly investigate these matters to protect citizens from abuse by so called foreign investors and to ensure stability of the financial system.
Author’s name withheld