Workers march to South African banks over possible job losses


South Africa
A logo of Oakbay Investments is seen at the entrance of their offices in Sandton, outside Johannesburg, South Africa April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Hundreds of workers of South African company Oakbay Investment marched on Tuesday and handed letters to banks pleading with them to restore ties with their company, saying their jobs were at stake.

The country’s four main banks cut their relationships with Oakbay following allegations that its owners, the Gupta family, have undue political influence with President Jacob Zuma.

Barclays Africa’s Absa, First National Bank (FNB), part of FirstRand, Standard Bank, Nedbank, investment bank Sasfin and the local unit of global auditors KPMG cut links with Oakbay earlier this month.

Oakbay executives have said that if the accounts remain closed they will be unable to pay salaries for their workers.

The workers chanted “save our jobs” outside the banks, urging them to renew banking ties with Oakbay.

“We are appealing to them, we are requesting them, in a peaceful manner, please reconsider the decision and open the accounts so that we do not lose jobs,” said an unnamed representative of the workers.

Last week, the workers sent an open letter to banks to restore relations with their employer.

The government set up a team of ministers to resolve the stand off between banks and Oakbay Investments.

Zuma has acknowledged the Guptas are his friends, but denies anything improper. The Guptas, whose wide range of business interests include media and mining, also reject the allegations.

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