Nedbank head offices in Sandton North of Johannesburg Photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) on Wednesday condemned Nedbank for announcing plans to cut 3,000 jobs as a result of robotics, and also threatened "serious action plans" if the bank sidelined it in future decisions on staff.

This comes as Nedbank last week said that it could possibly do away with 3,000 employees as a result of software robots, but that the job losses would be offset through the bank’s expected growth.

Nedbank has installed 59 software robots and plans to have 200 in place by the end of the year. With about 32,000 staff, the bank said its natural attrition rate is about 3,000 per year. 

Sasbo, the workers union which represents approximately 70,000 members in the finance sector, said that it had had long exploratory talks with Nedbank on the impact of digitization and robotics.

"Sasbo is startled and disappointed that Nedbank turned to the media to release a condemning press statement of 3,000 jobs losses thereby causing major disturbances and confusion in the finance sector," the union said in a statement.  

"We are constantly engaged in discussions with Nedbank on various issues and at no stage did Sasbo consent or agree to this statement, nor was any report alluding to such large scale job losses based on robotics ever presented to us. Sasbo rejects this statement as the country cannot afford further job losses."

Nedbank's chief executive Mike Brown with Pepper.

The union warned that while it was not oblivious to technological changes, the news of 3,000 job losses at a single bank may create resentment about their impact.

Sasbo said that it had written to the Nedbank chief executive demanding an explanation and challenging the bank to continue talks with the union in good faith. 

Also read: Nedbank launches first humanoid robot in SA at branch

 - African News Agency (ANA)