The South African Society of Bank Officials (SASBO) – which boasts of a whopping 50 000 members, making it the most prominent financial union in the country – is set to undertake a nation-wide strike on Friday, 27 September. The union wants to highlight job loss and retrenchment due to digitalisation in the South African banking sector.
Technological advancements are causing the banking industry to adapt on a global scale – this is in response to growing economic pressure as well as the ever-evolving way consumers desire access to financial services. SASBO secretary-general, Joe Kokela says financial institutions that encourage consumers to bank online instead of visiting their local branch is one of the reasons to blame.
The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) says, “In part because of these global changes, many in the South African banking industry are having to restructure their businesses to ensure they remain sustainable and relevant to the needs of consumers.”
However, the fate of the first-ever 4IR focussed strike will be determined in court on Wednesday, 25 September. Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is attempting to forgo the national shutdown, claiming that SASBO did not follow the right procedure for the strike.
“It’s not a strike, it’s protest action. Our argument is that they have not followed the procedure as prescribed in Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act,” says Kaizer Moyane, acting Nedlac convener for BUSA. “If they want to continue protesting, we believe they should follow the procedure.”
Kokela is completely undeterred by the comments – he believes that the protest action is legal, meaning both the strike and the employees are protected as per Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act.
“The total shutdown could potentially see between 40 000 – 70 000 finance sector employees down tools. Cash machines, inter-personal bank services and a host of branches will be affected across the country,” says Tom Head, Journalist at The South African.
In the meantime, BASA says it is taking precautions to reduce potential disruption and inconvenience to consumers ahead of the strike. “In the event of the protest action going ahead, we expect the authorities and unions to ensure it is peaceful and guarantees the safety of customers and property. In case of any unavoidable disruptions at branches, bank customers should as far as possible make use of digital banking services.”
“Protest action will not help to address the realities affecting the banking industry and will further burden the economy and deter investment. The only sustainable solution is improved education and attracting higher levels of investment to drive economic growth and job creation. These require government labour and business to work together in the national interest,” concludes BASA.
Here are three ways you can prepare for the nation-wide banking sector strike on Friday:
- Withdraw enough cash in advance, before Friday, to make sure you’re covered for the weekend
- Ensure that all tax-related payments have been submitted to SARS before end-of-work on Wednesday, 25 September
- Download and register for online banking with your preferred bank
By Jenna Cook
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