Financial union Sasbo urged South Africans to fill up on petrol and withdraw any needed cash ahead of its planned banking strike on Friday, September 27th.
The Labour Court blocked the planned strike in the banking sector, as unlawful. Cosatu and Sasbo have been prevented from going ahead with a planned strike. But the unions insist it will still go ahead.
According to SABC News around 50, 000 workers have indicated that they will protest against recent retrenchments in the banking sector.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) brought the interdict against the trade unions, saying they have not negotiated with the banks before embarking on the strike.
Speaking to the SABC, the union’s general secretary Joe Kokela said the country must prepare for a ‘total shutdown of banking services’.
“The total shutdown speaks to anything and everything that has got to do with banking in this country; it will come to a standstill,” he said.
“The ATM might also not be working on the day of the strike and even those who are using the swipe machines, those machines might not be working.
“We are appealing to the people, especially the motorists that they better make sure that on Thursday they fill up their tanks. We are appealing that they withdraw enough cash on Thursday.”
‘‘ATMs are mended and programmed by our members so if our members are not at work then there will be no service produced,’‘ Kokela warned.
“If you’re travelling make sure you have enough petrol because the speed points machines may not be working.”
The protest action has also received additional support from South Africa’s largest trade federation Cosatu, which may see the numbers swell.
According to Sasbo’s website, five major marches are planned throughout the country in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
Kokela said that the union’s members in Gauteng will march from Cosatu headquarters in Braamfontein to Bank City in the Johannesburg CBD.
This march is expected to be made up of some 15,000 to 20,000 protesters alone.
Several banks in South Africa have recently announced restructuring plans that include digitisation of several processes. The plans will lead to the retrenchment of thousands of workers.
Standard Bank closed 91 branches, affecting hundreds of jobs.
Absa also announced jobs would be at risk because of its restructuring processes.
Regarding the strike, FNB said its customers would be able to access the bank’s services through online and mobile banking.
But Kokela said even these services would not be operational.
“They forget that there’s a human being who is in operation of those robots. So, there will be no one who will be able to go into the app.”
Sasbo represents 73,000 finance sector employees and expects over 50 000 of its members to join the strike.
The Banking Association of South Africa on Wednesday reassured customers that all would be done to minimise disruption of services.
“We’ll put into place security measures and ensure that ATMs are filled with cash and that we don’t run out of cash. We will do everything in our power to minimise disruptions to ensure customer services are delivered.”
The association’s Cas Coovadia said the workers union is pursuing a wrong strategy.
“Striking in this environment is not going to have the desired result. My association has informed me that they’ve talked to Sasbo often and what needs to happen is that banks need to sit down with the union and talk through how we manage the situation,’‘ Coovadia said.
South Africa’s Revenue Service (SARS) also said it would be working with all the players involved to prevent any disruption to the country’s financial system.