ZAMBIA Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers (ZUFIAW) general secretary Msiska Chingati has sued Barclays Bank Zambia and ABSA Bank Zambia, seeking a declaration that the unilateral and non-consensual transfer of unionised employees of Barclays Bank to the new entity, ABSA Bank, is unlawful, null and void.
Chingati also wants a declaration that the so-called name change from Barclays Bank Zambia to ABSA Bank Zambia is a sham intended to mask the real nature of the corporate transaction, being a transfer of the business undertaking from Barclays Bank Zambia to the ABSA Group Limited and therefore unlawful, null and void.
He wants a declaration that the unilateral and non-consensual transfer of the employees of Barclays Bank to ABSA Bank is a terminating event entitling the employees of Barclays Bank Zambia to payment of redundancy benefits under the applicable Collective Agreement being 4.7 months’ pay for each year served.
Chingati is further seeking an order for the payment of all other accrued benefits and rights being among others, pension benefits, long service award, leave days and repatriation allowance under the applicable Collective Agreement.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, July 20, 2020, Chingati stated that ZUFIAW represented all unionised Banking and Financial Institutions employees in Zambia as well as allied institutions in the Finance and Banking sectors.
He added that the union commenced this action on behalf of all its members, being unionised employees working for Barclays Bank Zambia Plc, pursuant to the Recognition Agreement signed between the bank and the Union.
Chingati stated that ABSA Bank Zambia was a newly created Zambian subsidiary of ABSA Group Limited of South Africa, having its registered office in Lusaka.
“In terms of context, the plaintiff (Chingati) shall state at trial that Barclays Bank UK Plc of the United Kingdom (UK) (henceforth the parent company) has served on the African Banking market for over a century now. The parent company was the Holding Company of all Barclays Banks operating on the African continent. For operational efficiency, the Parent Company incorporated a subsidiary in Africa called Barclays Africa Group Limited through which it owned all Barclays banking entities on the African continent which included Barclays Bank Zambia,” read the claim.
Chingati stated that the Parent Company held majority shares in Barclays Africa Group Limited and therefore had the controlling voice in all Barclays Banks on the African continent.
He further stated that all the Barclays banking entities in Africa collectively belonged to “the Barclays Group” of Banks, adding that Barclays Bank Zambia being a member of the Barclays Group was a subsidiary of the Parent Company.
Chingati stated that the Parent Company had however, reduced its presence on the African Banking market by selling its majority shareholding stake in its African subsidiary, Barclays Africa Group Limited, by remaining with only 14.9 percent minority shareholding and simultaneously disposing of its majority shareholding stake to ABSA Group Limited of South Africa.
He stated that therefore, the sale by the Parent Company of its majority stake in Barclays Africa Group Limited, through which it owned all Barclays entities in Africa, had inevitably resulted in the said Barclays Bank UK Plc ceasing to be the Parent company of all Barclays entities in Africa.
Chingati stated that instead, ABSA Group Limited has now become the Parent Company of all Barclays entities in Africa which includes Barclays Bank Zambia Plc.
He stated that ABSA Group Limited, being the new Parent Company of all Barclays banking entities in Africa, had embarked upon the process of integration of all former Barclays entities in Africa into its group structure.
Chingati stated that the integration process involves among others, extinguishing and transferring Barclays Bank Zambia to a newly created subsidiary of ABSA Group Limited, which is ABSA Bank Zambia.
“The extinguishment and permanent transfer of Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to the ABSA Group of Companies has been masked and camouflaged in Zambia as a mere name change from Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to ABSA Bank Zambia Plc. The alleged name change is a facade or camouflage and is intended to mask the actual real transfer of a separate and independent legal entity being Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to a new entity the ABSA Group of Companies through its local subsidiary ABSA Bank Zambia,” read the claim further.
He stated that further, the integration process also entailed permanently transferring all employees, customers and assets from the extinguished Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to the newly created separate and independent legal entity ABSA Bank Zambia Plc.
Chingati stated that ABSA Bank Zambia had also assumed all legal obligations which fell upon the shoulders of the extinguished Barclays Bank Zambia such as the payment of all statutory contributions on behalf of Barclays Bank.
He stated that at the time of the alleged name change, ABSA Group Limited existed as a separate and independent legal entity operating in 12 African countries.
Chingati stated that the so-called name change from Barclays Bank Plc to ABSA Bank Zambia Plc was a sham intended to disguise the actual transfer of the employees’ contracts of employment.
He is now seeking, a declaration that the unilateral and non-consensual transfer of the Unionised employees of Barclays Bank Zambia Plc to the new entity ABSA Bank Zambia Plc is unlawful and null and void for breaching Sections 28 and 55 (I ) (c) of the Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019 and the Recognition Agreement.
Chingati further wants, among other claims, damages for the unilateral and adverse alteration of the existing Conditions of Service, interest, costs and any other relief in favour of the employees.