The South African Society of Bank Officials (SASBO), the largest finance union in the country, is planning to embark on a country-wide strike on Friday.
This protest action is ostensibly due to the job losses and retrenchments at South African banks which have been caused by branch closures and increased adoption of digital banking services.
SASBO secretary-general Joe Kokela partly blamed technological advancements for these job losses, and warned that the strike action would “shut down” ATMs and Internet banking.
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is trying to stop the national banking strike through an interdict against the protest, but Kokela has stated that the strike would go ahead under the protection of the Labour Relations Act.
MyBroadband asked major South African banks whether they were prepared for this protest action, as well as whether ATM and Internet banking facilities would be affected.
“Standard Bank is aware of the planned protest action this Friday,” the bank told MyBroadband.
It maintained that customers should rely on digital banking channels, adding that it would keep users updated should there be any changes.
“Standard Bank has effective contingency plans in place, and customers will be kept informed should there be any change or impact on their banking activity.”
“Customers are encouraged to use any of Standard Bank’s multiple digital banking channels, including the Banking App, Internet Banking, USSD and ATMs,” the bank said.
Nedbank HR group executive Deb Fuller stated that Nedbank had also prepared for the impact of the protest action.
“Nedbank has taken the necessary precautions to limit disruption to our customers, staff and ensure service continuity as far as it is possible on Friday, 27 September,” Fuller said.
“We understand that the planned protest action may still be stopped if the Labour Court rules in favour of the challenge by Business Unity South Africa on Wednesday, 25 September.”
If the protest does take place, Nedbank said it did not expect any major disruptions to its operations.
“In the event that the protest action proceeds on Friday, 27 September, Nedbank does not anticipate major disruptions to our operations however some branches may have limited staff on the day,” Fuller said. “We have contingency measures in place to ensure the safety of our employees and clients at all our branches and Nedbank campus sites.”
“For optimal service delivery, clients are encouraged to make use of our ATMs and our convenient digital banking platforms to transact – these are planned to be fully operational,” she said.
Nedbank said it would continue to engage constructively with SABSO on its concerns about job losses.
“FNB acknowledges receipt of a notice for a protest action by SASBO the Finance Union, scheduled for Friday 27 September 2019,” said FNB Points of Presence CEO Lee-Anne van Zyl.
“In anticipation of the intended strike, FNB has made contingency measures to try and ensure that its services are uninterrupted during the protest.”
Accordingly, FNB customers are encouraged to use the FNB mobile app, ATMs, online, and cellphone banking.
“Customers with cash needs can also use the [email protected] option at partner retailers for cash withdrawals,” van Zyl said.
“FNB can further confirm its plans to grow its branch network by opening an additional 7 branches before the end of the current financial year,” she said. “Currently, the bank recruits an average of approximately 35 permanent sales personnel per month to boost capacity in its branches.”
Absa stated that it had measures in place to deal with the effect of any protest action.
“Should the protest action proceed, we will deploy our business continuity and contingency plans to mitigate the impact on customers and clients,” Absa said.
“It is possible that some branch, ATM, and other services may be affected. We encourage customers to use digital services where possible and to monitor our social media channels for updates on the day.”
“We have also encouraged corporate clients that may be affected to consider scheduling payments, transactions and other services to earlier dates,” the bank said.
Capitec said it was not retrenching and was growing its staff, adding that it would provide more information on the day of the protest.
“We’re fortunate to be growing, continuously hiring new employees and not retrenching. Over the past year our staff complement has grown by over 200 people,” Capitec said.
“Our implementation of technology in the business has not posed a threat to jobs, instead it has helped us improve processes, freeing up our staff to help clients bank better.”
“We will provide more detail on our social channels on the morning of the strike,” the bank said.