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African Bank to retrench hundreds of workers

Sasbo says the planned jobs cuts are inhumane and disingenuous

Mpho Sibanyoni Journalist
Basani Maluleke, African Bank's chief executive, has announced plans to cull jobs.
Basani Maluleke, African Bank's chief executive, has announced plans to cull jobs.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

African Bank has announced plans to retrench hundreds of its employees.

The bank's chief executive, Basani Maluleke, on Tuesday on Tuesday afternoon said in a media release that the planned job cuts were due to a reduction of sales due to the Covid-19 lockdown. However, the bank's workers threatened to go on strike should the company proceed with the retrenchments.

"African Bank has commenced a consultation process with its recognised union, Sasbo, as prescribed in terms of section 189(3) read together with section 189A of the Labour Relations Act, Act 66 of 1995," said Maluleke.

"It is anticipated that 1,269 employees of the current 3,728 total will be affected. The bank anticipates a job loss ratio of approximately 25% of the number affected. In the preceding 12 months, African Bank has not retrenched any employees for operational requirements."

African Bank and Sasbo have currently agreed to a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) facilitation process to consult on all pertinent issues," said Maluleke.

She said the Covid-19 outbreak and the associated protracted lockdown intensified the dire state of the economy. "Given the financial pressure faced by our customers, the bank has recorded a reduction in sales as well as collections, which has created excess capacity across the different business units.

"The bank has furthermore been gradually automating processes across our operations and has implemented the Omni-channel digital platform to reduce duplication and increase efficiency. Consequently, this has led to redundancies and has required the bank to evaluate its current resource capacity which may necessitate reducing duplication of functions."

She said the bank has over the years implemented various initiatives to reduce costs and align its operating model to the cost base, in line with the economic reality, to ensure the sustainability of the business and remain competitive.

"It has therefore become imperative to restructure the Bank and hence enter into consultations, which may lead to the loss of jobs. We have been deliberate in reducing costs in all areas of our business.

"The undertaking of a consultation process with our employees is the last resort to further reduce costs. Our intention throughout the process will be to consider appropriate measures to avoid and minimise potential job terminations. During these unsettling times, we will continue to deliver the exceptional service to which our customers have become accustomed.”

Finance labour union Sasbo's general secretary Joe Kokela slammed the "inhumane and disingenuous" retrenchment process.

"We don't take this with a good spirit. I believe we will apply for the right to strike and if it means we have to close down African Bank so be it as we will do whatever it takes to take action in which we send a clear message to the capitalist that they must practise capitalism with a conscious," he said.

Kokela raised concerns about the bank planning to retrench workers few months before the festive season.

"We are heading towards festive season and how do you negatively affect workers who are mothers and fathers just before December. How do you expect their children to survive," he said.

"We also regret the decision taken by the bank especially when the country is mourning Covid-19 and while there is a lockdown. What they are doing is inhumane and disingenous. The people they are planning to retrench are the members who have carried the bank when the bank was in curatorship.

He added that the bank was taking the action while they were in the middle of salary negotiations. "This is a clear way of intimidating workers and unfair way of bargaining."



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