Unions 'have violated section 77 and had not engaged in negotiations before strike'
Economy / 27 September 2019, 10:30am / Siphelele Dludla
JOHANNESBURG – Banking stocks rallied on Thursday following the successful interdict by the Labour Court against the planned strike by workers in the banking industry, but labour is mobilising a fightback campaign.
The planned strike action for today would have potentially crippled the financial sector at least for one day.
The Labour Court on Thursday granted Business Unity South Africa (Busa) an urgent interdict against Cosatu and its finance union affiliate Sasbo-led strike which would have seen about 50 000 workers joining the protest against job losses.
It declared that Cosatu and Sasbo had failed to comply with the provisions of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
Section 77 of the LRA gives workers the right to take part in protest action to promote or defend their socio-economic interest and be protected against dismissal and other disciplinary action.
Nedlac convener for Busa, Kaizer Moyane, said the unions had violated section 77 and had not engaged in negotiations before deciding to embark on a strike.
Moyane said that Busa did not take the court outcome as a victory, because there were issues that still needed to be ironed out.
“We have always said that Sasbo and Cosatu had not followed the correct procedures and the judge agreed with us,” Moyane said.
“What we really want is for Cosatu and Sasbo or anyone else who has issues, to take them to Nedlac so we can all jointly come up with solutions, and this is what they have not done.”
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali had earlier spoken at the Nedlac annual general meeting, where he said he was no longer comfortable sitting in the organisation that is supposed to be the apex of social compact platforms.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the federation disagreed with the court's decision, but would abide by the decision while launching an urgent appeal against the ruling.
“The federation is unperturbed by this minor setback and will also be resubmitting at Nedlac to apply for another Section 77 strike certificate,” Pamla said.
“The federation is going to use this postponement to intensify its mobilisation and also engage with other unions and civil society organisations to join the strike at a later date.”
According to Payments Association of South Africa, more than R350 billion is settled through the National Payment System every day.
The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) said yesterday that banks would be operating as usual today, but urged customers to use digital banking services. “Banks will be carefully monitoring the situation to ensure the safety of their customers and staff,” it said.
“Given the decision of the court, we urge Sasbo to suspend any planned protest action and to engage with banks on the underlying issues facing our industry.”
South African banks have been cutting thousands of jobs and closing a number of branches in response to economic pressures, digital innovation and the changing way their customers use and consume financial services. Sasbo was planning to strike against this transformation in the banking industry.
The union is calling for a moratorium on job cuts and has offered various solutions to prevent retrenchments, including up-skilling of workers and the regulation of top officials’ salaries.
The banks index rose 2.34 percent by close of trade as the financial sector heaved a sigh of relief that banks will be operating as usual, with minimal disruptions if any.
FirstRand shares were up 2.73 percent closing at R64, while Standard Bank rose 2.79 percent to R180.91 a share. Nedbank shares gained 1.92 percent to R232,37 while Absa also rose by 2.22 percent to R160.50.