Operations with the public sector banks are likely to be hit as bank unions will be on a two-day nationwide strike beginning today (Friday). The bank strike has been called against the failure of wage revision talks with bank management. According to a notification by the State Bank of India, SBI operations are very likely to be impacted due to the bank strike. Services that may be affected include - cash deposit, withdrawal, cheque clearances, instrument issuance, and loan disbursement operations. According to a top All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) leader, 10 lakh bankers in government and private sector will be on strike today.
With the strike, the banks will remain closed for 3 consecutive days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Banks will now reopen only on Monday, February 3. The three-day break in banking operations could also lead to the drying up of ATMs.
"The talks with the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) has failed. So the two-day strike on January 31 and February 1 stands," CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA said.
According to him, majority of the 80,000 bank branches will remain closed on the two days.
However, private sector lenders like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank would be operational.
The bank strike comes on a day when the Economic Survey is slated to be presented. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be presenting her second budget on February 1.
Bank strike today: Why are bank unions on strike?
The strike call has been given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, including All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW). The strike has been called as the wage revision for employees of public sector banks is pending since November 2017.
Earlier this week, a meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner remained inconclusive, AIBOC President Sunil Kumar said.
"Today's talks with Indian Banks' Association (IBA) failed on demand from unions, so strike call stands," AIBEA General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said.
IBA's rigid approach has left unions with no option than to go on strike, Vekatachalam said, adding, "We appeal to the banking customers to bear with us for this disruption in services due to the strike but the same has been forced on us by the bank managements and IBA."
During the discussions, the IBA improved their offer to 13.5 per cent but this was not acceptable, the unions said.
However, IBA in a statement said despite the revised offer of up to 19 per cent hike including performance-linked incentives made by it during the meeting on Thursday, the unions, unfortunately, decided to go ahead with the all-India bank strike.
In a circular, UFBU accused the IBA of a rigid approach towards demands for a fair wage revision settlement.
A meeting of UFBU held at Mumbai on January 13 came to the unanimous conclusion that intensified agitational actions have to be taken to press our demands, NOBW Vice President Ashwini Rana said.
During the recent period, prices have gone up steeply and the workload on the banking workforce has also gone up enormously, UFBU said, adding that bank staffers expect a fair and reasonable hike in wages in the current settlement.
Unions are demanding 20 per cent hike on payslip components with adequate loading.
In the past wage settlement, which was for the period November 1, 2012, to October 31, 2017, the employees got a hike of 15 per cent.
A section of bank employees had gone on a day-long strike on January 8 in support of 10 major trade unions' protest calls against the government's "anti-people" policies.