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Wage issue: Bank officers' union threatens strike

Our Bureau

Chennai , June 5

THE All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) has threatened to strike work soon if the ongoing wage negotiations with bank managements do not meet its expectations.

"We are going on strike if the next round is fruitless," said Mr Shantha Raju, General Secretary of AIBOC. AIBOC members said that the next round of talks would be in the last week of this month or the first week of July.

"They have offered 8 per cent (upward wage revision), we have come down to 20 per cent," said AIBOC President, Mr A.K. Jana. He added that the positions were not rigid because negotiations were still on. AIBOC's press release said it had over two lakh members.

AIBOC is upbeat about the wage negotiations because it believes the political situation is in its favour. The office bearers, who are here in connection with a convention held by their women's wing, issued a press release that said the union welcomed the appointments of Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr P. Chidambaram as Prime Minister and Finance Minister respectively.

The press release criticised the opening up of the financial sector. Office bearers of the union, at a press conference on Saturday, demanded rollbacks in some changes in the banking sector that were effected in the recent past.

Among the key rollbacks demanded by the union was that the Union Government should hold back all disinvestment proposals and buy back banks' equity that has been sold to the public.

The AIBOC press release said amendments in the Banking Regulation Act that allowed the Union Government to reduce its equity stake needed to be withdrawn.

The union demanded that interest rate on their provident fund contributions be increased to 12 per cent from the present level of 9 per cent. Banks' branch expansion policy also needs to be reviewed, said union members.

Mr Shantha Raju said priority sector's definition had to be changed to remove housing loans and consumer loans from its scope. He felt the current definition blocked credit flow to agriculture.

The union has been negotiating a new wage structure since October 2002. The terms of the previous settlement expired on October 31, 2002.

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