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Indy photojournalist Tracey Adams implores Standard Bank to ‘do the right thing’ in Independent Media dispute

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Tracey Adams is an Independent Media Group photojournalist who has been with the company for nearly 30 years. She has been with Standard Bank for just as long, financing her home, insurance and daughter’s education with the bank. This bank has now decided it will close its bank account with Independent Media, but what of Tracey and the other 1,600 employees?

Tracey Adams is an Independent Media Group photojournalist who has been with the company for nearly 30 years. She has been with Standard Bank for just as long, financing her home, insurance and daughter’s education with the bank. This bank has now decided it will close its bank account with Independent Media, but what of Tracey and the other 1,600 employees?

Tracey Adams is an Independent Media Group photojournalist who has been with the company for nearly 30 years. She has been with Standard Bank for just as long, financing her home, insurance and daughter’s education with the bank. This bank has now decided it will close its bank account with Independent Media, but what of Tracey and the other 1,600 employees?

Tracey Adams is an Independent Media Group photojournalist who has been with the company for nearly 30 years. She has been with Standard Bank for just as long, financing her home, insurance and daughter’s education with the bank. The bank has now decided it will close its bank account with Independent Media, but what of Tracey’s livelihood and the other 1,600 employees?

This is her story, in her own words.

I am an employee of one of the companies in the Sekunjalo group. I am also a loyal client of Standard Bank for three decades.

I first opened my Standard Bank account when I joined the Cape Argus advertising department as a freelancer in the late 80s.

I chose Standard Bank because the company banked with the same institution, which meant that my cheque would be processed immediately when I went to the teller.

I eventually became a permanent employee, but was retrenched a few years later.

I remained with my bank which facilitated the payments I received for other freelance work I pursued back then.

Thankfully, in 1997, I was re-employed with Independent Media, this time in the desktop publishing department.

By this time, I had a one-year-old daughter.

I recall a few years prior, while at college, a lecturer told my business studies class that the biggest mistake one could make that would affect your credit record, would be to skip bank payments.

For some reason, this advice resonated with me and as a result, I have always made good on my account repayments, especially with my bank.

As a young woman, I was navigating parenthood as a single parent and as a sole provider for a toddler. Ensuring she had all the benefits of a dual parent home, I opened a bank account for her at my trusted bank, Standard Bank.

With her ‘Tweety Bird’ branded character bank card, she embarked on her journey in learning all she needed to know to offset the sound financial practices she would need as an adult.

Today she is 27, she still has her Standard Bank account and is making her way in the world as a professional.

I secured a student loan for her with Standard Bank when she embarked on her studies. The outstanding balance now stands at about R160,000 and the monthly repayment is R2,100.

Further, I purchased my home two decades ago, also financed by my trusted bank, Standard Bank. My monthly instalment currently stands at R7,800.

I have all my insurances and funeral policies bundled in a package with the same bank, Standard Bank, all amounting to around R2,000 monthly.

Earlier this month, I was informed by my employer, Independent Media, that Standard Bank will be closing its business banking account with the company as of August 21, 2023.

Subsequently, there have been various reports in outrage against this move to close my company’s bank account, but the one common thread in these reports that shook me was the repetitive reference to “the livelihoods of some 1,600 staff members and their families,” that would be affected.

That was me, they were referring to me. I am one of 1,600 staff members who will be affected directly by this decision.

So as this information starts to become a bitter reality, it is ironic that my main concern at the risk of not being paid a salary this month, is: “How will I pay the debit orders I have with Standard Bank?”

That sound advice from my lecturer in college has since been a stuck record, playing in my head, taunting me: “never skip your bank repayments.”

When I delve a bit deeper, I can’t help but to notice the ironies at play.

Firstly, it is ironic that a bank I have been so loyal to for at least three decades has indirectly abandoned me by cancelling the bank accounts of my employer.

Secondly, if my employer does not find a way to pay my salary, Standard Bank, would have shot itself, other creditors, myself and many like me in the foot, when we fail to make promise on our debt obligations at the end of August.

I am sat here pained and I wonder:

– Is this the same caring institution that offered us a three month and later a six month reprieve on all our bank debt during Covid-19?

– What happened to that Standard Bank?

– Where is that compassion?

As insignificant as my story may seem, I am penning this letter in the hope that Standard Bank will reconsider its stance and “do the right thing” to make it possible for the little people, who form part of the collateral damage of this action, to continue receiving their salaries.

In doing that, we will continue to also “do the right thing” and honour our debts with them and other creditors.

* Tracey Adams is an IOL News photojournalist.