Bank employees’ two-day strike hit transactions across India
Moneylife Digital Team 10 February 2014

The two-day nationwide strike by bank employees has affected clearing of cheques worth Rs7.40 lakh crores across the country on Monday. At many places, ATMs are not functioning or are dried up. The strike would continue on Tuesday as well

Banking operations, including clearing of cheques, across the country were hit Monday as around 10 lakh employees went on a two-day nationwide strike over wage revision settlement and ongoing banking sector reforms.


United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), the umbrella organisation of five employee unions and four officer unions of state-run banks in the country, had given the call for strike on 10-11 February. Due to the strike, banking transactions, including clearing operations, were paralysed across the country. While bank branches remain closed at several places, normal banking services were disrupted.


"All over the country about 10 crore cheques worth Rs7.40 lakh crore could not be cleared. In Chennai clearing house, about 90 lakh cheques worth about Rs64,000 crore could not be processed in clearing. Government transactions, foreign exchange transactions and money market operations were also affected.  In many places, ATMs did not function or were dried up," said CH Venkatachalam, general Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) in a statement.


Around 10 lakh bank employees and officers working in 27 public sector banks including State Bank of India (SBI) and 12 old generation private sector banks and eight foreign banks are on a two days nationwide strike.


Apologising for the inconvenience caused to public due to the strike, Mr Venkatachalam said, "Since Indian Bank's Association (IBA) and government did not settle our demands, the strike has been forced on us. We are sorry that the banking public would have been inconvenienced by this strike but that was unavoidable due to the non-serious approach of the IBA and government to avert the strike by improving their offer on wage increase and discussing our concerns on the banking sector reforms."


UFBU had called for a strike on 20-21 January this year. At that time, the IBA increased its offer to 9.5% from 5% with a promise to improve it further. However, during the discussions on 27th January, the IBA increased its offer by just 0.5% to 10%, which was rejected by UFBU representatives. The Union has been seeking an increase of 30% as their wage revision is pending since November 2012.


On 14 December 2013, the IBA called the Unions for talks and made their offer, which was found to be too low and hence was not acceptable to the Unions and hence UFBU decided to go ahead with the strike, the statement from AIBEA said.


According to UFBU, the last wage settlement in the banking sector expired in October 2012 and hence a revised settlement was due from November 2012.


Mr Venkatachalam said, bank managements are claiming that bad loans are increasing and hence profits are reducing. “Bad loans increase but not because of employees. Employees should not be held responsible for the same.  In the last five years Rs1.40 lakh crore have been provided towards bad loans from the profits. In addition, in the last six years, bad loans worth Rs1.41 lakh crore have been written off. But when it comes to our salary revision, managements are reluctant,” he said.


According to UFBU, its demands are reasonable and also negotiable. Mr Venkatachalam said, “UFBU would like to settle the demands through mutual discussions. But if the banks do not adopt a fair approach, the employees’ resentment would have to be ventilated through strikes only. We hope that IBA would understand our demands and come forward to settle the demands through amicable negotiations and finalise the settlement at the earliest.”

Ramesh Jaradhara
10 years ago
The plea of bad loans taken by IBA/Govt for non-revision of wages/salaries of bank employees as per their demand is not sustainable because corporate debts becoming NPA comprises the large chunk of the bad loans in PSBs. Instead of taking stern action for recovery of these bad loans govt is considering waiver of such loans or taken a soft stance against defaulting corporates. Banks are still a viable business proposition, a profit centre for govt exchequer because of employees give their best performance. The prevailing dismal performance of some banks are due to govt policy is not align to economic considerations.
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