Banking union looks at options

The mass strike in the banking sector was called off last week after a court ruling. / 123RF
The mass strike in the banking sector was called off last week after a court ruling. / 123RF

A union representing workers in the banking sector is set to appeal a court ruling that prevented workers from embarking on a national strike last week.

SA Society of Banking Officials (Sasbo) said yesterday that it was banking on a meeting with its lawyers scheduled for today to map the way forward about the mass action.

Sasbo's general secretary Joe Kokela told Sowetan that last week's Labour Court judgment against trade union federation Cosatu, Sasbo and the National Economic and Development Labour Council (Nedlac) had forced the union to go back to the drawing board.

"We have now put the strike on hold, " said Kokela.

The planned mass action was due to the banking sector's aim to retrench thousands of workers and close down hundreds of branches.

In her ruling, released last Thursday, judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker, who presided over the court application brought by Business Unity SA (Busa), remarked that an application for leave to appeal her order and to oppose such an application "have already been made by the parties despite the fact that reasons for my order were still pending".

"Given the importance of the matter, I take the unusual step of granting such leave by means of an order that . leave to appeal the order and judgment in this matter is granted," wrote Rabkin-Naicker.

She was scathing against Busa, who she said was apparently roused from its slumber when it received a strike notice.

"It would seem to me that a positive outcome of this dispute would be a return to the recognition of the importance of the role of Nedlac in the labour and industrial sectors.

"The message of this judgment to the social partners and the Nedlac structure is therefore 'Vukani! Wake Up!'"

She said Busa had sought to establish that section 77(1)(c) of the Labour Relations Act had not been complied with. The section refers to mediation efforts to avoid a strike action.

"[Busa] did so principally on the basis that only one plenary had taken place, and that it was the government and not Busa who had returned to a further meeting with proposals," she said.

Rabkin-Naicker, however, said Busa's version was disputed in answering papers.

"The denial is supported by the contemporaneous minutes of the plenary meeting and the content of the 'certificate' issued by Nedlac which, on proper reading, reflects that the respondents to the section 77(1)(b) notice did not revert to Nedlac within the month agreed at the plenary, and not just government respondent.

"In my view . Busa failed to establish that section 77(1) (c) was not complied with. What remained of Busa's case was the issue of the delay of 14 months in the issuing of the first section 77(1)(d) notice and the fact that three further such notices were issued based on the referral in August 2017."

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