Kenya Commercial Bank, the country’s biggest bank by asset base is planning a massive layoff of close to 500 of its current workforce even as tough economic conditions continue to bite across the Kenyan employment sector.
According to industry sources and the bank’s Human Resource strategy, KCB has extended an olive branch to the targeted employees and offered them the opportunity to either leave voluntarily or be subjected to a review that could see them relieved off their duties with no option of a lucrative severance package.
The bank’s management has indicated that the restructuring process is being carried out in accordance with the law.
The exercise seem to have largely targeted the non unionisable staff most of whom were recently promoted to management level. The promotions meant they all forfeited their previous union status and benefits.
The management has termed the process as a strategic exercise aimed at reorganizing the bank’s workforce and realigning the business in order to keep up with industry’s best practices.
Kenya’s banking industry has in the last few years experienced major business transformations orchestrated by the ever evolving technological changes and a dynamic and strict regulatory regime.
In the last six months alone, six other banks have carried out employee layoffs and closed down some of their branches. However some of these actions have raised concerns especially when banks like First Community laid off staff on the pretext of tough regulatory regime (read capped bank interest rates) yet they never were charging any interests in the first place.
National Bank of Kenya, Sidian Bank, Family Bank, Standard Chartered and Eco Bank have all walked down the restructuring path each citing business realignment as the key factor.
Beside the banking industry, Kenya’s media sector has not been spared the painful lashes of job loss. Major media houses like Royal Media Services, and Radio Africa have sent home a sizable number of their workforce.
The painful irony to the employees will be KCB’s logo slogan which reads ‘Making the difference”. This will certainly not be the kind of difference the affected staff were hoping for from the financial giant.