Money & Banking

Bank unions raise concerns over FM’s stimulus package

Mumbai | Updated on May 17, 2020 Published on May 17, 2020

The PSU bank merger is expected to impact the recruitment of clerks, in particular. File photo of a Canara Bank branch in Mumbai

Bankers and bank unions have expressed concerns about the economic stimulus package outlined by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and have called for more protection and improved conditions for bank employees who have been working during the lockdown.

Many bankers raised questions on Twitter on wage revision, pointing out that while bankers have been carrying out operations on a daily basis amid the national lockdown and novel coronavirus infection, their demands for wage hike have been pending.

“Banks have been the fulcrum of the economy, especially at this juncture when there is a pandemic and our service is not being recognised by the government,” said Soumya Datta, General Secretary, All-India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), adding that the merger of the public sector banks was done at a most “inopportune time” and could be demotivating to the morale of public sector bank employees.

The Finance Minister’s proposals to privatise public sector enterprises, as well as exclusion of coronavirus-related debt from the definition of default and no fresh initiation of insolvency for one year under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, also raised concerns.

“Privatisation is totally a wrong measure. Also, there should be more measures to ensure recovery of bad loans, especially when the non-performing assets of banks are near ₹10-lakh crore. This is half the size of the ₹20-lakh crore economic package,” noted CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All-India Bank Employees’ Association.

Wage negotiations

Venkatachalam said the All-India Bank Employees’ Association is not pursuing wage negotiations talks during the current pandemic.

Dutta of AIBOC noted that bankers are at a risk in Covid-19 and their services are not being recognised by the government as such. Bankers had also sought insurance cover for bank staff against Covid19.

Talks between the Indian Banks’ Association and the bank unions have remained inconclusive on wage revision in public sector banks.

Published on May 17, 2020

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