The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) has vowed to shut down all digital banking platforms on Friday, according to an article published by ITWeb.
South Africa’s largest financial union has threatened the country with a complete blackout of transactional services, including cash withdrawals, in response to the increase in digitalisation and job losses in the sector.
South African banks have been advising their customers to use online banking platforms on Friday.
However, Sasbo general secretary Joe Kokela told ITWeb in an interview: “Whatever the banks say, it’s their right; I can only speak on behalf of Sasbo and say the digital platforms will be affected. Those services are all controlled by human beings to be able to perform a function. Our argument is that these services will be affected on Friday.”
Sasbo hopes the single day of industrial action will mitigate the retrenchments that have become common in the sector.
All of the major banks across South Africa will partake in strike action on Friday unless a court rules in favour of stopping it.
If The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) succeeds on Wednesday, service will be disrupted nationwide. The total shutdown may result in up to 70 000 employees downing tools.
Sasbo, which is affiliated with Cosatu, is is planning five marches throughout the country in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They are scheduled to take place from 10:00 onwards.
The union is striking over the digitalisation of banking practices which have lead to job losses and retrenchments in the sector.
The South African outlined how each bank might be affected:
Employees: 54 000
Customers: 8.12 million (as of 2018)
Response: The bank are waiting for the court’s decision before responding to planned strike action
Other information: Standard Bank are said to have slashed 1 200 jobs in the last year, following the closure of 91 branches across South Africa. The bank is facing the harshest criticisms from the union.
Employees: Around 30 000
Customers: 8.15 million (as of 2018)
Response: FNB envisage staff shortages on Friday, but the group have customers to ease the workload by registering for online banking, or downloading FNB’s official app before the end of the week
Other information: They have expressed their willingness to co-operate with Sasbo, after getting wind of the potential bank strike last Friday
Employees: 42 000
Customers: Between 8 – 9 million. Just over five million people use it as their “main bank”
Response: ABSA has confirmed to Fin24 that they “will deploy a business continuity and contingency plan to mitigate the impact on customers and clients” – they expect a small number of workers to strike.
Other information: Around 187 ABSA branches have been cut from service over the past decade
Employees: 31 000
Customers: 7.85 million (as of 2018)
Response: They have revealed through a statement that some branches will have “a limited number of workers available”, and continued to say: “For optimal service delivery, clients are encouraged to make use of our ATMs and our convenient digital banking platforms to transact.”
Other information: The institution has joined Business Unity South Africa’s application to halt the bank strikes. Around 1 500 Nedbank staff are currently facing unemployment or redeployment elsewhere
Employees: 12 000 – 13 000
Customers: 10.2 million (as of 2018)
Response: A representative told Business Tech: “Over the past year, our staff complement has grown by over 200 people. We also plan to open a further 17 branches in the next six months.”
Other information: Don’t expect too much disruption at Capitec. Their ship remains steady on the bank strike issue
Cash machines, inter-personal bank services and a host of branches are expected to be impacted across the country.
In order to prepare for Friday, consumers should:
- Withdraw money in advance and make sure you have enough to last a few days
- Any tax-related payments to SARS should be made before the close of business on Wednesday
- Register for your bank’s online banking or download their bank app.