Operations at state-owned banks have been affected today as an umbrella body of nine bank unions has called a day-long strike to protest the government’s “anti-people banking reforms” and to press for compensation to employees for extra work done on account of demonetisation and booking loan defaulters.
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), comprising nine unions -- AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INBEF, INBOC, NOBW and NOBO -- will observe the strike, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said in a statement here.
The strike covers employees and officers in all public sector banks, including SBI, all old-generation private banks, foreign banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks.
However, the functioning of private banks like ICICI, HDFC, Axis and Kotak Mahindra is expected to be normal except for delays in cheque clearance.
Most of the banks, including SBI, PNB and BoB, had informed their customers in advance that the functioning of branches and offices will be impacted if the strike takes off.
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) is an umbrella body of 9 unions, but two of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliates – National Organisation of Bank Workers and National Organisation of Bank Officers – are not part of the stir.
"Strike is on as there has not been serious effort from the bank management especially Indian Banks' Association (IBA) to defer it by accepting some of our demands," All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) General Secretary Harvinder Singh told PTI.
According to All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam, Chief Labour Commissioner held a conciliation meeting between the bank management Association (IBA) on February 21 and the unions but due to the approach of the management and its not coming forward to solve any of the issues, the conciliation meeting did not yield any positive result.
Hence, he said, CLC advised IBA and Ministry of Finance to initiate the dialogue with the UFBU for amicable settlement of issues so that proposed strike is averted.
Unions are also opposed to the proposed labour reforms of the government and outsourcing of permanent jobs in the banking sector.
Some of the other demands include compensation of employees and officers for extra hours of work put in following demonetisation in November and early initiation of process of next wage revision of bank employees.
They have also demanded adequate recruitment in all cadres, stringent measures to recover bad loans and accountability of top executives. Besides, they have pitched for criminal action against wilful defaulters.
UFBU, which claims membership of nearly 10 lakh people across banks, also requested the government for cost reimbursement for demonetisation to banks.
As many as 27 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business in the country.