A couple uses a Commonwealth Bank of Australia automatic teller machine (ATM) in Sydney February 14, 2006. The bank, Australia's biggest mortgage lender, posted a 13 percent rise in first-half earnings, beating market forecasts and maintained its outlook for full-year growth equal or better than rival banks on February 15, 2006. Picture taken February 14, 2006. REUTERS/Will Burgess

Strikes in the mining and transport sectors have resulted in fewer ATM cash withdrawals, according to figures released on Thursday.

There was a significant decline in average automated teller machine (ATM) cash withdrawals during October, according to Spark ATM Systems, which installs and maintains the machines.

Director Marc Sternberg said the latest Spark cash index figures clearly showed the provinces experiencing labour turmoil in platinum and gold mining had recorded a significant decline.

“The North West, Free State, and to a lesser extent Limpopo and Mpumalanga regions, all recorded month-on-month drops in cash withdrawal values of between two percent and five percent during the October strike period.

“Limpopo and Mpumalanga also act as labour feeds for mineworkers to the platinum and gold sectors and, as many miners did not receive salaries, there was a subsequent decline in cash withdrawal values.”

He said the transport sector strike affected cash withdrawal activity along the country's main transport routes, as truck drivers did not draw money and payments for truckloads were not completed.

The trend could possibly be reversed in November and December.

“With the majority of the strikes now over and many workers subsequently receiving higher salaries, we should see a spending 'catch-up', resulting in increased cash withdrawal figures over the next two months,” Sternberg said.

Ronel Oberholzer, an economist at IHS Global Insights, said increased petrol and food prices could increase ATM withdrawals.

“We saw a national 25c petrol price increase in October and expect to see some seasonal up-trend in food prices, as retailers start stocking up for Christmas,” she said.

“Food is always more expensive over the festive season, which should lead to an increase in cash withdrawals over the coming two months.” - Sapa