Banking operations could be hit as employees of state-run banks go on a two-day nationwide strike starting from today. The bank strike comes after a two per cent salary hike failed to convince the bank unions and several rounds of talks between banks and the unions of their employees did not make any headway. The wage revision for all banks is due since November 1, 2017.
Since the bank protest dates coincides with the month end, salary withdrawals are likely to get affected. ATM transactions may also take a hit. Besides, deposit in branches, FD renewal, government treasury operation, money market operation would see the impact of the strike. Online banking operations, however, will be available at all times.
All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), general secretary C H Venkatachalam said. "It is kind of an insult to the employees of public sector banks...to be offered this kind of meagre hike. We had no other option but to go on strike, forgoing two days'' salary," All India Bank Officers'' Confederation (AIBOC) joint general secretary Ravinder Gupta said.
Success of all government schemes like Mudra, Jan Dhan and demonetisation were ensured by public sector bankers but the reward is just two per cent hike, he said, adding, it is gross injustice to bankers who have worked very hard for nation building.
Bank union leader Ashok Gupta told NDTV that bank unions are not ready to accept a wage hike below 14-15 per cent. The Indian Banks' Association has refused to discuss their demands, he said.
In the last wage revision in 2012, employees had received a wage rise of 15 per cent, news agency PTI cited West Bengal convenor of UFBU Siddhartha Khan as saying.
Following the refusal, the United Forum of Banking Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, called for a nationwide bank strike against wage hike proposed by the Indian Banks' Association.
ATM security guards are also likely to participate in the bank strike.
The United Forum of Banking Unions has demanded early wage review settlement, sufficient increase in salary, improvement in other service conditions and wage revision settlement for all officers up to scale VII.
The Chief Labour Commissioner supported the issues and asked Indian Banks' Association to respond positively. He had also said that officers and employees have to be paid for hard work and not based on profit.
Most of the banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Bank of Baroda (BoB), have already informed their customers that functioning of branches and offices will be impacted if the strike takes off. However, the functioning of private banks like ICICI, HDFC, Axis and Kotak Mahindra is expected to be normal except for delays in cheque clearance. Withdrawal and cash deposit in the branches of public sector banks would be affected.
"We urge our customers to make the maximum use of digital banking services like UPI, MahaMobile app, internet banking facilities for their transactions. We have ensured that our digital banking systems and ATMs (for those who need cash) are available at all times for the convenience of our customers," Ravindra P Marathe, MD of Bank of Maharashtra, was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
There are as many as 21 public sector banks that control 75 per cent of the total business in the country.
On May 5, the Indian Banks' Association offered 2 per cent hike which was rejected by unions calling it unjust. The Association refused to revise wages for all officers citing poor financial condition of banks. Large public sector banks had reported huge losses in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2018 owing to mounting bad loans.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI)