The Economic Freedom Fighters have poured scorn on Standard Bank’s decision to retrench 1,200 staff and close 91 branches.
The bank has said that it was a difficult decision to make, but that the future of banking suggests less of a need for physical branches as customers migrate to doing most of their transactions online.
Last week, the bank said it grew its full-year earnings at less than half the pace it saw in 2017, Reuters reported.
The majority of the affected branches were due to shut by June, but the bank said it would do all it could to create other opportunities in the company for affected staff, to lower the total number of retrenchments.
However, in a statement on Friday night, the EFF suspected that the bank was engaging in ongoing “cartel” behaviour, and was allegedly fighting the party’s attempts to introduce a state bank.
They called the banking sector “predatory and exploitative” and said they were known for overcharging black clients. They also accused the ruling ANC of being both loyal to and scared of the “banking cartel”.
They furthermore accused Standard Bank of not being willing to retrain staff to adapt to technological change.
The EFF promised it would place a moratorium on all retrenchments if it ever came to power, both in the public and private sector, because the country shouldn’t be shedding a single job.
Numerous analysts have, however, opined that especially the public sector in South Africa is overstaffed and underskilled, placing a huge drain on the public sector with a highly inflated wage bill.
It’s also unknown how a private company would be able to operate in a competitive environment if it becomes impossible to change its staffing complement in response to business pressures.
EFF Statement On Standard Bank Job Cuts. pic.twitter.com/tzp4Neirz0
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) March 15, 2019