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50 000 expected to join bank strike

Durban – UNIONS say they are expecting about 50 000 people to join a banking sector strike on Friday.

Joe Kokela, general secretary of Sasbo – the Finance Union (formerly the SA Society of Bank Officials) said they had been negotiating with the banks over planned retrenchments since May.

He said the banks came to negotiations with a “take it or leave it” approach. He said the union offered various solutions to prevent retrenchments, including upskilling workers, multi-skilling or letting the process of natural attrition reduce staff numbers.

The threat of retrenchment had affected staff morale. “Our members are living in fear,” he said.

Kokela said the strike would affect the entire sector, including internet banking and ATMs.

He said the union was also prepared to counter any contingency plans banks would implement to mitigate the effects of the strike.

Kokela said people should plan for Friday when cash and other banking services would not be available. He said they had 73000 members in all parts of the banking sector, and expected up to 50000 to be on strike.

Kokela said fellow Cosatu unions would join them in solidarity. Edwin Mkhize, provincial secretary of Cosatu, said he encouraged the public to join the strike against retrenchments in the sector. He said banks were exploiting their workers and should work to help the people instead of always focusing on profits.

Economist Professor Bonke Dumisa said he understood the plight faced by the workers, but it was inevitable that retrenchments would happen.



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