South African banking strike threatens to shut down ATMs and Internet banking

The South African Society of Bank Officials (SASBO), the largest finance union in the country, is planning to go ahead with a country-wide strike on Friday.

The union is protesting against job losses and retrenchments in the South African banking sector as a result of digitisation and closing bank branches.

Sasbo secretary-general Joe Kokela said the union is opposed to any job losses at banks and other financial institutions.

He is partly blaming technological advancements for the job losses, like encouraging clients to use mobile banking instead of visiting their local bank branch.

Kokela said the union will make sure that ATMs do not operate and that Internet banking is down, and warned people to withdraw enough money before Friday’s strike.

Trying to stop the strike

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is trying to stop the national banking strike through an interdict against the protest action.

BUSA said it will file the court application to interdict against the strike on behalf of South Africa’s commercial banks on Wednesday.

Kaizer Moyane, Nedlac convener for BUSA, argues 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,” Moyane told 702.

“If they want to continue protesting, we believe they should follow the procedure,” he said.

Banking strike going ahead – Kokela

Kokela, however, dismissed BUSA’s argument and said the protest action is legal which means it is protected as per Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act.

He told union members that the action will be classified as a protected (legal) strike which means “no work, no pay and no discipline”.

He added that SASBO is planning five marches throughout the country in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

“Members living in areas where no march will take place can plan their own pickets with the assistance of their SASBO Regional Office,” said Kokela.

Now read: The best and worst South African banking apps

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South African banking strike threatens to shut down ATMs and Internet banking