Major Banking Strike Heading Our Way

At the end of September, a major strike is being planned by the largest financial union in South Africa. Sasbo, who currently has more than 73 000 members, are talking about downing tools at the end of the month in protest of the planned retrenchments in the banking sector. 

Sasbo general secretary, Joe Kokela said that the union wants banks to look at other options instead of retrenchment and begin a program to re-skill employees who are at risk. Kokela went on to say that if the banks turn them down then they will ensure that the system is shut down until they come to their senses. In addition, Kokela said that they can make sure that ATMs are replenished at a minimum so that the country runs short on cash. 

According to eNCA, Cosatu is in support of the strike, which has warned that the strike is ‘just a warm up’. Deputy general-secretary, Solly Phetoe said that all Cosatu-affiliated unions will mobiles to ensure that the Sasbo banking sector strike, planned for the 27thSeptember is a success. Also, Phetoe said that this strike is just a build-up to the full national strike on the 7thOctober. 

Why Are They Striking

Recently several local banks have closed numerous branches throughout the country due to digitalisation, which promotes self-service as clients can use their cell phones and computers instead of going to a branch. 

Lenders are cutting jobs as they try and find ways to lower costs and contend with the slow economic growth. Also, there is new competition which is branchless, such as the digital entrants Discovery and TymeBank. 

In recent months, Absa, Nedbank Group and Standard Bank have consulted with staff about cuts. Standard Bank is closing 91 branches, Absa is restructuring operations and Nedbank is in talks with about 1500 employees over job cuts or redeployments according to a report by Bloomberg in July. 

Job cuts is a sensitive issue in South Africa, especially as the unemployment rate has risen to 29%, which is the highest it has been in more than a decade. 

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