The planned banking strike for Friday should be seen as a warning to South Africa that better planning is necessary to deal with the changes brought about by the development of new technology.
Banks have changed a great deal since the first ATMs were introduced but whether or not the service provided has improved for all customers is an open question.
There is still a need for personal service especially for older people and those with less education. There is also the issue of social responsibility in this time of high unemployment rates.
It’s also necessary to understand that banks are in a difficult position. They have to deal with increasing competition in a stagnant economy and policy uncertainty created by government indecision and plans for expropriation of bonded property without compensation.
The Chamber does not believe that strike action, which can be massively disrupting, is the answer as it could worsen the situation and create more problems than it solves.
Difficult decisions have to be made but South Africans are known for their ingenuity and compromise is possible. We need to find something between retrenchment and, for example, the service station industry which decided to retain petrol pump attendants instead of following the self-service model.
At present the six largest banks have 152 441 employees, which doesn’t seem a lot for companies that have branches in virtually every town in the country and many branches in the cities. There should be room for a successful negotiation process.
We have to come to terms with the likely effects of the fourth industrial revolution and this seems like a good opportunity to start the process and for both sides to do some constructive thinking.
President of the Cape Chamber