NEW DELHI :
As differences between bank employees' union and management over a 20% pay hike, 5-day work week, etc failed to get resolved, thousands of bank employees sat on a two-day bank strike from today. Bank union leaders said about 31 lakh cheques worth ₹23,000 crore could not be cleared due to the strike. Several PSU bank branches and even ATMs could remain shut for three days in many parts of India as the bank strike comes before Sunday.
The timing of this bank strike is symbolic as it coincides with the release of the Economic Survey in the Parliament today and the presentation of the Union Budget tomorrow.
While work at private sector banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank would not be affected due to the strike, services at PSU banks were hit. The State Bank of India (SBI) had already warned that its services could be impacted to some extent. Around 10 lakh bank employees were expected to join the two-day protest.
Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, West Bengal, UP, MP, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, etc. banking transactions have been greatly affected
Bank unions vs bank management
Bank employees under the umbrella of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) and representatives of bank management (Indian Bank's Association or IBA) had a last minute meeting yesterday on wage settlement issues, pending since November 2017. IBA said it has increased the pay hike offer of 12.25% to 19% including performance linked incentive. The bank unions have refused to budge from their demands of a 20% pay hike on pay slip components with adequate loading thereof.
Bank unions are also demanding 5-day work week, merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of new pension scheme, etc. IBA made it clear that the proposal of a 5-day banking is not possible. “It is known to all that the economy of the country is going through testing times. Banks being the principal players in economic development, cannot afford to provide lesser number of working days for banking activities," IBA said in a statement. It also said India already has one of the highest number of public holidays than any other country and adding 26 more holidays would create more problems for the public.