UNIONS say they are expecting about 50 000 people to join a banking sector strike on Friday. Picture: REUTERS
Cape Town - Cosatu and its affiliate the South African Society of Bank Officials are still bullish over the putative bank strike, with the trade union federation warning that the fight is far from over.

This is despite the court judgment that interdicted the banking sector strike over retrenchments until other processes have been finalised.

Cosatu said it had already appealed the court judgment. There will be another process at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) said it had done everything to prevent the strike and was willing to talk to the unions.

Parliamentary co-ordinator for Cosatu Matthew Parks said the labour federation had a strong case in court against the banks.

“We have lodged the appeal already. Our lawyers are confident we have a strong case,” said Parks.

However, if the strike went ahead Parks did not believe the banks would lose a lot of money.

“The point is to force banks to come to the negotiating table and stop the retrenchments. We are pleased with the overwhelming support Cosatu and Sasbo have received.”

He said the banks had made trillions of rands and were not helping the workers.

“The banks must stop focusing on profits, they must focus on their social contribution,” he said, adding there was a need to re-skill workers.

He said in the 1980s, the mining sector employed 1 million people, but today that sector employs 500 000 people.

The jobs bloodbath has been hitting all sectors across the economy.

Basa managing director Cas Coovadia said they would not say how much they would lose if the strike went ahead.

This would depend on the number of people going on strike, he said.

He said the banks had taken all the necessary measures to prevent disruptions to their operations.

“The banks were taking all the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that the disruption was minimal. We haven’t had a strike in the banking sector for many years,” said Coovadia.

He hdenied Cosatu’s claims that the banks had not been willing to talk.

“On Wednesday the judge made a compromise proposal to ‘suspend the strike and go to Nedlac’. We said ‘yes’ and Cosatu said ‘no’. We were more than willing to talk with Sasbo,” said Coovadia.

He said the strike threat had not raised any concern with investors in the banking sector.

“No investor has raised an issue related to the strike. Investors have not raised any issues of the strike,” said Coovadia.

He said the banks consider retrenchments a last resort.

He said banks have been re-skilling and redeploying their employees.

Mike Schussler, chief economist at Economists.co.za, said if the strike went ahead it would not have a huge impact on the banks.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact because a one-day strike does not have a big impact,” said Schussler.

Dawie Roodt, chief economist at the Efficient Group, said the strike was going to have an impact on the banks if it went ahead.

He said since the banks had moved to the digital space, he was not certain if the financial impact would be huge.

Politics Bureau