South African banks on Thursday warned clients to prepare for disruptions to some services as a Friday strike to protest job cuts in the sector loomed.
The Labour Court was due to make a ruling on Thursday on whether banking union Sasbo could go ahead with the strike, expected to result in a complete shutdown of systems including automated teller machines.
The court heard the matter on Wednesday after an urgent interdict application by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).
In a notice to clients on Thursday, one of the country’s major banks Nedbank urged customers to prepare for “possible disruptions to our branch, banker and contact centre services on the day and make alternative arrangements”.
“Our electronic banking platforms – the Nedbank Money app, Online Banking and Netbank Business – should not be affected by this strike,” it said.
Clients of Absa bank said they had received a similar alert.
Sasbo has called on its 73,000 members across South Africa to strike on Friday not just against job losses in the industry, but also as a show of anger over the economic crisis which has weighed on the country for much of the past decade.
The call comes in the wake of retrenchments at South Africa’s big four banks. Standard Bank has closed 104 branches, affecting more than 1,000 jobs, while Nedbank, FNB and Absa have also trimmed the numbers of their branches.
Sasbo, which started 1916 as the South African Society of Bank Officials and is an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) says the finance sector has failed to take steps to up-skill workers in preparation for technological changes during the 4th industrial revolution.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union has voiced its support for the financial sector strike, which it said highlighted “the evil tactics of the capitalist system of using retrenchments in order to rake in more profits”.
“NEHAWU joins our federation COSATU in condemning BUSA for electing to interdict the Sasbo strike,” it said.
“The decision by BUSA proves beyond reasonable doubt that they do not care about workers’ jobs instead they are preoccupied by accumulating more dividends,” NEHAWU added in a statement, urging its members, workers and society at large to join hands in fighting what it called the job bloodbath currently taking place in all sectors of the economy.
-ANA, editing by Stella Mapenzauswa