Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannsburg - Preparations for the banking industry’s national shutdown against retrenchments and the economic crisis are continuing despite the Labour Court’s pending judgment on the bid to stop the protests.

Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe on Wednesday insisted that preparations for the rolling mass action against contemplated and current job losses in the financial sector were going ahead.

The federation and its 73000-member strong affiliate, the South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo), are unhappy with retrenchments, rising unemployment, poverty, and the fact that a quarter of the country’s population (17million South Africans) are on government social grants, among other issues.

Phetoe said it was good that business also accepted that there was an economic crisis in the country.

“We’re positive the interdict will be in our favour but we also want to say we’re not going to stop mobilising our members in relation to the shutdown on September 27 [tomorrow], but also October 7, in relation to the economic crisis that is facing us here,” Phetoe said.

Business Unity SA (Busa) approached the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, yesterday in a bid to interdict tomorrow’s national shutdown and next month’s protest action.

Busa argued that Cosatu and Sasbo could not issue notices in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act in August 2017 and still use them for tomorrow’s protest action in the financial sector and another rolling mass action against the economic crisis scheduled for October 7.

The organisation’s advocate, Alistair Franklin, said the protest action should be halted as it would be disruptive and “potentially very damaging”.

Franklin told the Labour Court that Busa tried to halt the protest action by appealing to Cosatu and Sasbo to reconsider their planned actions.

Franklin told Labour Court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker yesterday that the planned protest action was unlawful and wanted the country’s largest trade union federation and its affiliate not to entice and encourage their members to embark on the national shutdown and protest action.

”A union cannot keep a section 77(1)(b) notice on ice and pull it out of its pocket any time,” Franklin said.

It’s feared that the planned banking strike will drive most people to online banking, providing easy prey for online scammers and fraudsters on the hunt for gullible customers.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre has warned bank customers about a scam known as “Business Email Compromise”, where criminals literally “steal money by asking for it”.

The centre said this scam, which used “impersonation attacks,” targeted specific employees in organisations who were authorised to transfer huge funds or make huge payments.

SABRIC acting chief executive Susan Potgieter said digital technology, combined with social engineering that exploits a human tendency to be compliant when faced with a directive from an authority figure, enables criminals to perpetuate this type of crime.

She said criminals utilise information obtained from company websites and/or other digital platforms to identify the details of chief executives, financial directors and other key senior individuals.

“They then impersonate these individuals by sending electronic requests via email or text message to junior staff in the accounting or finance function, requesting that an urgent payment be made to a specific beneficiary.

“Another way criminals glean information to perpetuate this crime is through phishing attacks, where users are sent emails containing malicious links and are then manipulated into clicking on them to install malware.”

Still, Cosatu is not backing down and has also expressed anger at the “extortionate and extraordinary bonuses” paid to executives while companies are retrenching. Phetoe said instead of business cutting down salaries of executives, they “dump” workers to continue reaping profits and preserve their pay.

According to Phetoe, Busa should not have approached the court but referred the matter back to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to review Cosatu’s certificate authorising the national shutdown.

The federation also wants companies to be decreed to fight poverty and create jobs because they have the financial resources to do so. Cosatu told Nedlac that there should be no retrenchments for the sake of profit and companies be forced to create a certain number of jobs every year.

Sasbo general secretary Modime Kokela said it was “aluta continua” for Friday’s national shutdown and next month’s protest action. Phetoe assured concerned South Africans that Friday’s shutdown would be peaceful and that it should be supported.

However, he would not comment in the event the court rules in Busa’s favour. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union has also condemned Busa for electing to interdict the strike, saying it proved that the organisation did not care about job losses but was preoccupied with accumulating more dividends from its members. Rabkin-Naicker is expected to deliver her order this morning.

Additional reporting by Sisonke Mlamla and Mwangi Githahu

Political Bureau