Money & Banking

Fearing rush at branches for withdrawals, unions seek safety measures from FinMin, bank managements

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 29, 2020

Fearing a rush at bank branches to withdraw salary and pension and subsidies deposited in Jan Dhan accounts in the week beginning March 30, banking sector trade unions cautioned that this could defeat the very purpose of social distancing prescribed by the authorities to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.

The unions also emphasised that bank employees are facing huge problems in reaching their branches due to the lack of public transport in the current 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Devidas Tuljapurkar, General Secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation, said: “In the ensuing week, branches will face rush at the counters due to salary disbursement and pension payment. The announcement of disbursement of subsidies through Jan Dhan accounts is likely to result in huge rush at the counters.

“So, maintaining the required distance between customers and branch staff will not be possible. This will frustrate the very purpose of social distancing. This is likely to put customers and also staff at great risk.”

To avoid rush in bank branches for withdrawals in the next two months, Subhash Sawant, General Secretary, Indian National Bank Employees’ Federation, in a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, suggested the immediate credit of ₹1,500 (all three instalments together) ex-gratia to women Jan Dhan account holdersinstead of three instalments of ₹500 every month.

The federation has also demanded five-day week for banks for the next three months; incentive for bank employees in the form of one day additional salary for every five days work; alternate day working for employees; and insurance cover to protect bank employees on the lines of what the government has announced for doctors/nurses/para-medical staff.

CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association, in a letter to Debasish Panda, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, suggested that bank managements should ensure necessary transportation to staff to reach branches if they do not have their own vehicles; and police/security personnel should be provided in front of the branches to regulate the crowding customers and allow them inside the premises one by one.

He said bank managements should provide additional staff on deputation in such banches on the days of disbursements; and disbursements to the beneficiaries (of government schemes) should be staggered over a few days to avoid rush on a single day.

According to KS Krishna, General Secretary, All India State Bank of India Employees’ Association, there are no clear instructions so far as to how the bank managements are going to regulate the throng of customers who will visit the branches.

Bank Mitras, BCs

“Equally important would be the role of Bank Mitras and Business Correspondents whose job would greatly multiply in the coming days. They face the problem of lack of transportation to reach the people in remote villages,” he said.

Published on March 29, 2020

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