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Bank strike: Labour Court interdicts Friday's banking sector strike

Sep 26, 2019
Bank strike: Labour Court interdicts Friday's banking sector strike

Port Elizabeth - Business Unity SA (Busa) - which represents the banking sector, emerged from the Labour Court victorious on Thursday after the court ruled in its favour averting Friday's bank strike, which was called for by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and its affiliate, SA Society of Bank Officials’ (Sasbo).

Busa immediately Tweeted after the ruling:

The unions were set to strike against job losses in the banking sector.

Labour Court Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker heard Busa’s bid to interdict Cosatu and Sasbo from embarking on the bank strike.

Sasbo had promised the strike will totally shutdown the South African financial sector. Sasbo, the biggest financial union in the country, had promised to ensure that ATMs, onine banking and other banking operations are not functional.

Presenting its argument, Busa told Rabkin-Naicker on Wednesday that the planned protest action was unlawful.

Representing Busa, Advocate Alistair Franklin, said the bank strike should be halted as it would be disruptive and potentially very damaging.

Franklin said that Busa had tried to stop the strike by engaging both Cosatu and Sasbo. They had failed.

Busa argued that Cosatu and Sasbo could not issue notices in terms of section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in August 2017 and still use them for Friday’s bank strike as well as another mass strike against the economic crisis scheduled for October 7.

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

Representing Cosatu,  Advocate Daniel Berger argued that the context of the economic crisis the federation issued the notices for in 2017 had not changed this year.

”The current wave of retrenchments is of great concern not just to unions but to society,” said Berger.

He cited the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) processes for the approval of a section 77 protest action to promote or defend socio-economic interests of workers were not time sensitive and therefore the 2017 notices were still valid.

Representing Sasbo, Corne Goosen, said that Busa failed to respond to the union’s notice and also made no attempt to do so.

Sasbo represents 73 000 finance sector employees and it said it expected over 45 000 of them to join the strike, while others will stay away from work.

Both Sasbo and Cosatu have stated that they will appeal the judgement, "before end of the day" to ensure the banking strike goes ahead as planned.

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