Banking shutdown in the balance as Busa heads to court

Banking union Sasbo plans to strike against job losses in the banking sector. However, the industrial action might not go ahead as banks have applied to the labour court to stop the strike.
Image: 123RF/Grosescu Alberto

A proposed banking strike hangs in the balance, as Business Unity SA (Busa) heads to court on Wednesday to prevent the protest action from going ahead.

The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) has threatened that its members will embark on a shutdown on Friday over planned retrenchments in the banking sector.

But before it can go ahead with the threatened action, the union has to overcome the application by the banking industry for an interdict to prevent it from happening. The application, which the union will oppose, is expected to be heard in the Labour Court on Wednesday.

Kaizer Moyane, Busa’s business convener at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), described the proposed shutdown as an unprotected protest action.

“It’s actually not a strike, It’s protest action,” he told Radio 702. “It’s governed by a particular section in the Constitution. Our argument is that they (Sasbo) have not followed that procedure as prescribed in Section 77.  This is what we are going to ask the court to declare on and call the protest action ‘unprotected’.”

He said the protest would affect small businesses should it go ahead.

“Any form of industrial action is destructive,” he said.

Moyane said there was a lack of consideration for those who would be hard-hit by the action.

“It will be small businesses that rely on cash that will be affected. A lot of people conduct their business online. We would like to stop it for the benefit of everyone.

“It is actually irresponsible to claim that you want to stop retrenchments when you are prepared to damage an economy that is damaged,” Moyane said.

He claimed the workers were using an old licence to embark on protest action – a licence they acquired in 2017. Workers, represented by Sasbo, are calling for companies to stop retrenching staff to maximise profits.

Speaking on the threat of digitisation of banking to jobs, Moyane said banks were doing their best to manage the situation.

“Jobs are changing. The banks are talking to them about what can be done. They are embarking on retraining skills. The fact that a lot of people’s roles are changing doesn’t mean they are retrenching,” Moyane said.

He said there was another protest planned for October 7, which they also intend to stop.

Joe Kokela, Sasbo secretary-general, said the interdict was an empty threat and a delaying tactic by the banks.

“We worry that the banks do not understand what the future world of work entails,” he said.

Kokela said Friday’s strike was the first of two planned by the union and its parent trade union federation, Cosatu.

During the planned strike, workers would also call for a moratorium on job losses. Banking sector employers should also clarify how they planned to deal with the fourth industrial revolution and what was being done to help up-skill workers, Kokela said.

When the union announced plans for the strike earlier, Kokela said Standard Bank planned to retrench 6,000 employees, Nedbank 3,000 employees and Absa 878 employees.

Sars said the anticipated protest action might affect transactions related to tax payments and refunds.

“The SA Revenue Service would like to ensure that the effects of the strike on these transactions are minimised for both the taxpayer and Sars.

“To this end, taxpayers are encouraged to submit their payments two business days in advance and, similarly, conduct any tax transactions that may result in a payment to Sars two business days in advance,” it said in a statement on Monday.

BY KGAUGELO MASWENENG

TimesLIVE

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