Say time ripe, thanks to proliferation of ATMs, Internet and mobile banking

When the Government and many companies, both in the public and private sectors, follow a five-day week work regimen, why not banks?

Trade unions in the banking sector have raised this demand as part of their bipartite wage negotiations with the Indian Banks’ Association.

With alternative channels such as ATMs, Internet and mobile banking in place, the unions feel that the time is ripe for moving to a five-day week.

The loss of one working day could be made up by extending the business hours from Monday to Friday.

Divided view

However, during the wage revision negotiations between trade unions and the IBA’s wage negotiation committee led by Indian Bank Chief T. M. Bhasin, bankers were divided in their opinion on going for a five-day week.

One section of the bankers held the view that when electronic banking channels are available for customers to transact business and when the domestic financial markets — bond, money, foreign exchange and stock — as well as the banking regulator observe a five-day week, why not banks. Another section of bankers were of the opinion that five-day week was not advisable as it would come in the way of efforts towards financial inclusion.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), in its memorandum to the Finance Minister, said not only Central and State Government ministries/departments but even the Reserve Bank of India follow the five-day work schedule.

“Already in the banking sector, with the advent of technology-based services, proliferation of ATMs, Internet banking, etc., the delivery channels for customer services in the banks have multiplied manifold. Hence, it is possible to introduce five-day banking.”

Wage pact

UFBU said the last wage pact in the banking sector expired in October 2012 and it has submitted a fresh charter of demands for revision of wages and service conditions to the IBA.

“More than a year has elapsed but except for some preliminary discussions, no serious negotiations have been held by the IBA on our demands.

“This is causing lot of concern and anxiety amongst the banking staff and, hence, there is need to expedite the negotiations with more meaningful and serious discussions on our demands to enable early conclusion of the revised wage settlement.”

As and when it is concluded, the 10th bipartite wage settlement between trade unions and bank managements will be applicable to employees of all public sector banks and some old-generation private sector banks.

ramkumar.k@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 1, 2013)
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