Major banking strike planned for South Africa

South Africa’s biggest financial union is planning a major strike at the end of September 2019.

Sasbo – which currently has over 73,000 members – will down tools at the end of the month in protest over planned retrenchments in the banking sector.

The union wants banks to consider options other than retrenchments and begin a program to re-skill employees whose positions are at risk, said Sasbo general secretary Joe Kokela.

“If the banks say no, the struggle continues and we will make sure we shut down the system until they come to their senses,” Kokela said.

“We can even make sure replenishment of ATMs are kept to a minimum so that the country runs short of money.”

According to eNCA, the strike has the support of South Africa’s largest trade federation Cosatu, which has warned that the strike is ‘just a warm up’.

“All Cosatu-affiliated unions will mobilise to ensure that the Sasbo banking sector strike on 27 September is successful,” said deputy general-secretary Solly Phetoe.

“This strike will be part of a build-up to the 7 October full-blown national strike.”


A number of local banks have closed a number of their branches throughout the country as a result of digitalisation, which encourages self-service, with clients using their cell phones and computers, rather than walking into a branch.

Lenders are cutting jobs as they seek ways to lower costs and contend with slow economic growth and fresh competition in the industry from branchless, digital entrants such as TymeBank and insurer Discovery.

Job cuts in the country are particularly sensitive as the unemployment rate has risen to 29%, the highest in more than a decade.

Absa, Standard Bank, and Nedbank Group have all consulted with staff about cuts in recent months.

Absa is restructuring operations across its business units, Standard Bank is closing 91 branches, while Nedbank is in talks with about 1,500 employees over job cuts or redeployments, Bloomberg reported in July.

Read: ‘We can’t accept a situation where robots take people’s jobs’

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Major banking strike planned for South Africa