Sasbo, the South African Society of Bank Officials as it was in 1916, started with members from the National Bank of South Africa Limited, the African Banking Corporation, the Netherlands Bank of South African Limited and the Standard Bank of South Africa Limited. Over time the union became a niche union operating almost exclusively in the Standard Bank of South Africa Limited and the then Barclays National Bank of South Africa Limited.
Sasbo– The Finance Union, as it is now known, having diversified into the finance sector as a whole, has de facto recognition with approximately 20 financial institutions, ranging from banks to insurance companies to pension fund administrators and the like, and has members from nearly 200 financial institutions throughout the country. The union still has a banking flavour though in that the bulk of the membership is from ABSA, First National Bank and the Standard Bank, with Nedcor running a close fourth.
Joining the Sasbo family
The first step up for any new employee in the finance sector, be it in banks or insurance companies or the like, is to become part of the Sasbo family. The strength and influence of a union is measured by the number of members in its ranks. The Labour Relations Act even sets certain thresholds determined by the level of union membership. Simply put – the more members the better.
Sasbo has a network of regional organisers operating from the six regional offices throughout the country. They are full-time union employees and are tasked with recruiting new members and servicing the needs of existing members.
The first contact that a potential member has with the union is more often than not with the friendly and helpful Sasbo organiser. Members are encouraged to recruit new members as recruitment is the backbone of the union.
The Constitution Governs All
The structure and operation of Sasbo is governed by the union’s founding document, the Sasbo Constitution. All that is done under the Sasbo banner has to be within the ambit of its Constitution. All Sasbo members and full-time staff are therefore bound by the Constitution.
Branch Executive Committees form the Building Blocks of the Union
Sasbo is a membership driven union, operating from the level of the branch executive committee as the first point of membership input and drive. Each branch executive committee is elected annually from amongst the membership in its area of operation of that particular committee. For example, the Johannesburg committee is elected from amongst the Sasbo members working or living in the Johannesburg area. There are about 30 branch executive committees throughout South Africa.
Each branch executive committee meets at least once every two months to deliberate over issues affecting the Sasbo membership. The committee system is designed to facilitate a free flow of information and advice between the branch executive committees, the Sasbo regional offices and Sasbo headquarters. Sasbo always needs dynamic and hardworking committee members so don’t be shy to come aboard one of the committees and do your bit. To sum up, branch executive committees deal with the day to day issues affecting members and are one vital link between the members themselves and between the members and the paid officials.
Shop Stewards are the Eyes and Ears of the Union
Sasbo has negotiated a system of workplace based shop stewards with some of the finance houses or institutions. This is usually in organisations where there is a high percentage of members. A shop steward is a Sasbo member who is employed by the bank or company concerned but who has been elected by his peers to represent their interests at the workplace on behalf of the union. Shop stewards must work through the branch executive committees but may also have other forums through which they operate. In short, shop stewards are an excellent point of first reference for any member with a problem. They liaise regularly with the Sasbo officials in order to get things done.
National Executive Congress is the Sasbo Parliament
National Executive Congress (NEC) meetings are held once a year. It is here that union policy is made and here where the strategic decisions are taken. Each branch executive committee elects from its ranks national congress delegates from within the branch executive committee. The branch executive committees can forward proposed resolutions for debate and acceptance or rejection at the national executive congress. Congress delegates have two other important functions, first to elect from their ranks a president and a deputy president for the union and, secondly to elect a management committee (MANCOM). The national congress therefore plots the path for the union on a broad macro level.
The Institutional National Councils sharpen the focus
Institutional national councils (INC) exist for each of the ‘big 4’ banks. Each institutional national council deals with matters that are specific to that institution. For example, the ABSA institutional national council deals with matters that concern ABSA members. Each branch executive committee elects at least one member of the committee who works for the institution concerned to attend institutional national council meetings which normally take place biannually. Each INC elects a vice-president to chair that council’s meetings. Each INC also elects a negotiating team called a negotiation and consultation forum (NCF) or a standing joint committee (SJC). The INC sets the direction and pace for Sasbo’s interaction with each of the four big banks.
The NCF / SJC’s, the hot part of the kitchen
These are the teams of Sasbo members who together with the Sasbo full-time staff tackle the institutions concerned on all matters at the negotiating table. Not a job for the faint hearted! A Sasbo full-time staff member who helps negotiate but has no vote leads each team. The outcome of all negotiations is therefore truly member determined.
Thus, for example, the FNB SJC negotiates the annual salary increases and changes to working conditions with the FNB management.
Small but potent and equally important
Representatives from the smaller institutions also meet regularly, be it through a shop stewards committee or another appropriate forum for the members of the institution concerned.
SJC’s are also elected, or sometimes nominated, from amongst the ranks of the membership and negotiations with the respective employers take place with as much time and effort as those pertaining to the ‘big 4’.
Sasbo has a wealth of membership from smaller institutions who are an integral part of the union and are all welcome to take part on the union structures.
MEMNET – Electronic Membership Network
Memnet is Sasbo’s electronic membership network comprised of volunteer members serving as two-way communicators in their respective branches and departments.
The Memnet communicators provide a vital communication link which enables the union to speedily spread information, test the validity of employer claims and gauge members’ views on issues affecting them.
MANCOM manages the money and hires the senior Sasbo staff
The MANCOM, chaired by the president, who together with the deputy president and five other members elected by NEC, has the important task of keeping an eagle eye on the union’s finances. This includes the approval of the annual Sasbo budget and the monitoring of all large expenditure. The MANCOM also appoints the general secretary, deputy general secretary and all assistant general secretaries; the senior full-time staff made up of professional career trade unionists. The Sasbo salary structure and working conditions are also set by MANCOM. Once again the members run the show.
The General Secretariat Does the Work
Though union policy and direction is set by the membership, it still needs a team of expert professionals who are full-time Sasbo employees to implement policy and direction. They are the general secretariat, comprising of the general, deputy, assistant and regional secretaries, ably assisted by all of the organising and support staff.
Without these people the union would not function, they are the engine room, support them and look after them well.
That, in a nutshell, is how Sasbo works – surf the site for further interesting information and do not hesitate to give us your feedback or to ask any questions.