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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Cash-in-transit strike threatens to leave ATMs dry

CIT strike threat looms, risking ATM cash shortages; Union demands safety measures, prompting industry concern.

A strike in the cash-in-transit (CIT) sector could see South Africa’s automated teller machines running dry.

That’s the prospect if the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration grants the Motor Transport Workers Union (MTWU) a picketing certificate to embark on a protected strike.

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At the core of the planned industrial action, set to cripple financial sector operations, is a call by the MTWU for the Employers’ Association in the freight sector to accede to a demand to add a third employee to CIT teams transporting money.

Strike would have severe consequences

Dr Frederich Kirsten, economics lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, has warned that major cashflow disruptions would be suffered by banks, businesses and consumers, should the CIT strike go ahead.

“From an economic perspective, anything to do with transport would have an impact on supply chain, with cash-in-transit being a vital part of the economy.

“The biggest issue on the banking side, will be cashflow disruptions due to a cash-in-transit disruption, with money not being moved as quickly as possible.

“Banks will suffer major cashflow disruptions, leading to credit risks. Any supply chain disruptions, including ATMs, causes major losses, normally incurred by businesses and consumers, if not addressed,” said Kirsten.

“The strike would have a similar impact on consumers, leading to increased costs for businesses and a reduction in productivity.

“The impact will be similar to the logistical disruptions at Transnet, impacting on the costs of doing business and hitting consumers.”

With the CIT strike threat made on an election month, Kirsten called for a quick resolution to the impending crisis.

“The timing of the strike is interesting, happening weeks before the polls.

“Any type of labour unrest could have far-reaching implications [and be] capable of influencing voter sentiment, depending how quickly authorities handle it. Resolving the matter timeously to create stability will be key.”

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MTWU national organiser Musa Tshabalala said the safety of employees transporting money was “paramount”.

“The workers’ lives have long been endangered by the fact that in any CIT van, there are only two people, making them an easy target for criminals.

“We demand a third person be employed as a backup, due to our members being killed daily.” He said strike action was a “last resort”.

The union, an affiliate of the Federation of Unions of South Africa, intended serving a 48-hour notice on the CIT-affiliated companies Employers Association of MTWU’s intention to embark on the protected strike.

Tshabalala said it was “dreadful that negotiations have deliberately ground to a halt since starting in 2022, deadlocking in 2023, with no consensus reached to date”.

The Road Freight Association (RFA), representing employers, conceded that the safety of CIT employees was important.

“Safety of employees is paramount and not negotiable,” said RFA labour relations officer Dave Behrens. “We agree on the addition of a third man.”