NEW DELHI :
When Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be reading out her second Budget speech in Parliament on February 1, thousands of bank employees across the India might be sitting on a bank strike. Although the bank employees' unions do not expect any sops for them in Budget 2020-21, yet they want the intervention of the finance minister in resolving their wage related woes.
The bank strike on January 31 and February 1 has been timed with the beginning of the Budget session of the Parliament. After the budget, the bank unions have threatened a three-day strike from March 11 and another indefinite bank strike from April 1.
After the 11th bipartite talks on wage related issues with the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) failed on January 13, the United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU), a cluster of nine bank unions, announced an agitation programme.
The key issue in this disagreement between the management of PSU banks and union leaders is related to pay hike. Bank unions have insisted on a wage revision settlement at 20% hike on pay slip components with adequate loading thereof while the IBA has given an offer of 12.25% increase on pay slip components with 2% loading.
Other demands include 5-day banking, merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of New Pension Scheme, updation of pension, hike in family pension, income tax exemption on retiral benefits without any ceiling, uniform definition of business hours, etc.
Ahead of the Budget, the Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) has asked all its members to submit a mass memorandum to Nirmala Sitharaman seeking a reasonable and fair wage settlement.
"Despite more than 30 months of negotiations IBA is unable to settle the wage hike on a reasonable basis as well as other important demands raised by the Unions. Hence the United Forum of Bank Union consisting of 9 trade unions of employees and officers has given the agitational programme and strike actions to highlight our demands and seeking the attention of the Government to resolve the demands expeditiously," reads the draft letter which is being sent to Sitharaman.
The union has sought finance minister's personal intervention in the matter. "Request you to advice the Indian Banks’ Association to expedite the settlement and resolve our demands favourably," says the letter.
Salaries, leaves and other service conditions of PSU bank employees and officers are decided by bilateral agreements once every five years. Wage revision is due since November 2017 as all talks have failed so far.