Bid to shut door on longer banking hours
BOLAND Bank's innovative decision to extend its banking hours as part of a more customer-driven approach may be thwarted by the industry trade union.
On Monday the bank extended its trading hours in all its 88 branches, two thirds of which are located in the Cape. Instead of closing at 3.30pm during the week and 11am on Saturdays, Boland outlets are now open to 5.15pm on weekdays and from 8am-1pm on Saturdays.
The finance industry union, Sasbo, declared a dispute with the bank, claiming its management had acted unilaterally. Boland contested the dispute in Cape Town's labour court on Thursday on the basis that it had consulted extensively with employees. "We held 40 different communication sessions with staff," says marketing head Chris de Beer.
However sources say the dispute goes beyond extended working hours at Boland alone. "It's a result of staff from other banks trying to avoid the possibility of working longer hours. Also, Sasbo wants to increase its membership at Boland," a source says. A court order postponed the union's application to February 7. Boland says all staff will continue to work the longer hours in the interim.
Managing director Michiel le Roux says the bank is striving for a more client-orientated approach. "In the past, banks focused only on risk. Now we are re-focusing to become client-driven without neglecting risk management."
It is unlikely other banks will follow suit. A Standard Bank spokesman says the bank constantly re-examines customer requirements but has no plans in the short-term to extend banking hours."We already provide a number of after-hours services in the form of electronic and telephonic banking."
Nedbank has made no decision on the issue, but does have a number of outlets in supermarkets which are open store hours for personal banking requirements.
Absa says its research shows that customers don't want longer banking hours, but that it will re-examine the issue on a local, rather than a national, basis.
Today's banking hours are relics from the past. In the old days, balancing the day's books was done by hand so banks had to close to give staff time to complete this exercise before they went home.
Now computers are able to do the job far more rapidly.