A division bench of the Gujarat High Court (HC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other respondents, on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the court’s directions to RBI to take strict actions against employees supporting bank strikes. The PIL was moved by the Gujarat Traders Federation and other trade associations of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Gondal and Vadodara.
Other respondents include the Central government, through the Secretary of the Finance Ministry, and the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). The respondents are expected to respond by January 30, a day before the planned two-day strike by the UFBU.
In a circular dated January 15, the UFBU had stated about the “rigid approach of IBA (Indian Banks’ Association)” on the union’s demands for a wage revision settlement, wherein they had sought a 20 percent hike on pay slip components among other demands. The UBFU concluded that they must conduct agitational programmes in the form of strikes from January 31 to February 1. If demands remained unmet, a three-day strike is planned in March and an indefinite strike starting April.
The PIL at the HC was moved by the Gujarat Traders Federation, Rajkot, Sorath, Gondal, Bhavnagar districts, the Central Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Vadodara and the Ahmedabad Automobile Dealers Association. They raised an objection to such strikes, terming it to be a “pressure tactic to claim financial benefits.”
The petitioners have contended that the planned strikes would cause “loss of crores of rupees to the public exchequer and also loss to the general public at large.” They further submitted that the bank employees can achieve their demands as per provisions of law and not by declaring strikes.
When advocate for the petitioners RC Jani argued the same before the division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath, the judge opined, “Personally, I think striking employees are a huge loss to the exchequer.” However, before admitting the PIL, the bench had also opined, “It is for their (striking employees) employers to decide (whether to take action or not).”
The petitioners, citing news articles, have stated in their PIL that “transactions worth Rs 12,000 crores has been derailed in the State of Gujarat alone due to strike of the bank employees in the past.” The period of incurring such losses, however, has not been mentioned.
The petitioners sought that the court direct banks, as well as the RBI, to issue circulars of strict action against those employees who have been going on strike very frequently for their own financial benefits.
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