New Delhi: Banks could be closed for most of the extended Christmas weekend as two bank employee unions have threatened to observe strikes separately on December 21 and 26. If these go according to plan, then most bank branches will be open only for a day between this Friday and next Wednesday. During this six-day period, there are three holidays — fourth Saturday of the month, Sunday and then again on Tuesday for XMas.
The United Forum of Bank Unions’ (UFBU), an umbrella body of the top nine bank unions, has given a strike call on December 26 while the All-India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) has appealed for a strike on this Friday, December 21. The timing of both the strikes is such that it can lead to an extended weekend for most bank employees while causing inconvenience to customers.
Both the union bodies have put out similar demands — better pay and calling off the proposed merger of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank.
The AIBOC strike call notice, which was issued after the confederation walked out of bipartite negotiations with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), demands full mandate for scale I to scale VII officers, introduction of five-day work week, salary revision according to the charter of demands and a defined benefit pension payment scheme unlike the NPS. It is also opposing the IBA’s offer to discuss the issue of wage revision of officers up to scale III with the Officers Associations.
“We have the colossal responsibility of not only ensuring a decent, acceptable wage revision as per the charter of demands, but also to protect the public sector character and nature of PSBs and its welfare," the AIBOC said.
The UFBU has also rejected the IBA’s revised offer of a 8% hike and wants it to further revise its offer substantially to an acceptable level.
The unions are also against bank mergers. “The concept of customer loyalty, retention and preferred banking relationships are going to fall apart with mergers. The sudden change of service provider is sure to create distrust and dissatisfaction," the bank unions said a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bank mergers will eventually lead to a decline in job opportunities, youth unemployment, lack of systematic job profiles with huge pendency of disparate work processes among merged banks and entities and a huge NPAs, the unions claim.