Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said job losses in the banking sector was a race to the bottom. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Labour unions have reacted to news that Standard Bank plans to close down 91 branches across the country, which may result in 1 200 people losing their jobs.

Eugene Ebersohn, assistant general secretary at Sasbo, said the finance union would not condone any action by the employer that could place any of its members at risk.

“What is happening in the bank right now is of serious concern given our country’s high unemployment rate. Any job losses based on operational requirements will inadvertently suppress the sustainability and growth of our economy and this we cannot afford,” says Ebersohn.

Sasbo said Standard Bank had conceded to its demands in agreeing that retrenched staff would be able to make use of training and upskilling opportunities provided by the bank in order to start with careers even outside the finance sector and to encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Standard Bank says the shift in customer behaviour means that its clients are using its branches less.

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said job losses in the banking sector was a race to the bottom. 

“The fact that Standard Bank sees the digitizing of their branches to be inline with 4th Industrial Revolution is communicating a message to workers that Industrial Revolution is a threat not a programme to up-skill and empower workers,” Vavi said.