Money & Banking

Bank strike halts operations across country

| Updated on: Nov 12, 2014
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Had the support of 10 lakh employees, claim unions

At 5 pm, a frail employee at one of Bank of India’s many branches in the city slowly downed the shutters.

“Nobody came today, except the Assistant General Manager,” he said, as he picked his bag and left.

At many public sector banks in the city, only security guards employed on contract were seen sitting outside downed shutters.

The participation of employees of public sector, old private sector and regional rural banks in the day-long strike today was near 100 per cent. Bank unions claim they had the support of 10 lakh employees from both the clerical and officer cadres for the strike.

At the heart of the strike is the wage-settlement issue — the 10th bi-partite industry-wide wage settlement — that has been dragging on for nearly two years.

With the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and bank employee unions sticking to their guns, Wednesday’s strike was just one of the many that the sector has witnessed in the past two years.

IBA, an umbrella body representing the interest of banks, is negotiating on behalf of the managements. It has offered employees a 11 per cent increase in pay-slip component, which the employees are not agreeable to. Other demands of employees include a five-day work week and higher salaries.

“The unions have been requesting, since the start of negotiations, for a time-bound approach to hold the negotiations on its demands and for conclusion of wage settlement within a reasonable time. But the recalcitrant and callous attitude of the IBA has inordinately delayed the negotiation process and there is no significant progress in the wage negotiations despite a lapse of nearly two years time,” United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) said in a statement.

The formal negotiations, the UFBU added, started in February 2013 and around 14 rounds of discussions have so far taken place between the IBA and the UFBU resulting in one round of discussion once in two months.

The bi-partite wage agreement is undertaken once every five years by both the parties. The 9th round expired in October 2012. Even during the last round of wage settlement in 2007, the implementation was delayed leading to similar strike calls across the country.

However, in the era of ATMs, Internet banking and wider choice of banks, such one-day strikes have become more of a symbolic exercise than a means to achieve something more substantial. A general secretary of one of the officer associations, who did not wish to be quoted, said: “ Sab dikhawa hain…kuch ho nahi raha . (This strike business is a big show…nothing comes out of it).”

As branches and individual banks’ local clearing centres were not working, the daily average cheque clearing volume of about ₹4,500 crore in the city was impacted.

There was relatively thin trading in the financial markets — call money, forex and bond — due to the strike.

Published on November 27, 2017

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