In a certain sense it was unfortunate that the strike the SA Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) called to protest against the growing trend to replace human workers with technology did not go ahead as planned at the end of September.
Nothing came of the plan to strike at a later date after Business Unity SA (Busa) got a court interdict to stop the strike.
A general strike by a large proportion of bank employees, of all the banks country-wide, would have made a very interesting case study, to see how banks would have worked for a few days if humans left the task up to basements full of computers and cellphone apps. It would have been an experiment that no individual bank could replicate.
The trigger for the strike was the announcements by several banks that they would close more branches and reduce staff by the thousands, while their results showed that more and more people are using electronic banking either through automated teller machines, the internet or mobile apps. Most people only enter a physical bank if something goes wrong with their bank cards or online access to their bank accounts.
Bank employees called the strike to get banks to explain their strategy with regards to the so-called fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and get a commitment from banks to safeguard jobs.
In reality, machines have been ‘stealing’ banking jobs from humans for decades. It started in the banking industry in all earnest when…