Banking operations in the country were hit on Wednesday after nearly 10 lakh employees went on a two-day strike to protest against a ‘minimal’ wage hike of just two per cent offered by the management body of Indian Banks Association (IBA). The strike was mostly joined by employees of public sector banks (PSUs) and also received support from some foreign banks.
While there were reports of disruption from various states, the impact of the strike in certain states like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand was more visible. With the month coming to an end, the strike affected the distribution of salaries and ATMs went dry in several cities. The effects are likely to continue on Thursday as well.
“Nearly 10 lakh employees, working in various branches of 21 public sector banks, 13 old generation private sector banks, six foreign banks and 56 regional rural banks across the country went on the strike as IBA offered them a nominal wage revision,” All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said in a statement.
While the strike halted the operations of PSU banks, most of the private sector banks stayed away. Work in banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank was carried out normally. An RBI official told PTI that some digital banking work was done through electronic systems like the RTGS but the functioning of banks’ servers was hit. Digital banking comprises about 5 per cent of the total operations, the official said.
Operations affected in Maharashtra
Banking services in Maharashtra were crippled as nearly 60,000 employees of various banks went on strike. “Bank employees have implemented government’s flagship programmes, such as Jan Dhan Yojna, demonetisation, Mudra scheme, Atal Pension Yojana, in the last few years. Our workload has increased substantially and we need an appropriate compensation for it,” Devidas Tuljapurkar, convenor, United Forum of Bank Unions said. “Bank employees have implemented government’s flagship programmes, such as Jan Dhan Yojna, demonetisation, Mudra scheme, Atal Pension Yojana, in the last few years. Our workload has increased substantially and we need an appropriate compensation for it,” he added.
Banking services in Rajasthan were crippled as nearly 30,000 employees of various banks participated in the strike on Wednesday. “The strike is likely to affect Rs 10,000 crore worth of transactions daily. Nearly 5,500 bank branches are shut and 30,000 employees are on strike in support of nationwide stir,” the United Forum of Bank Unions convenor (Rajasthan) Mahesh Mishra said. He added that the bank employees will tomorrow lodge a protest here at Ambedkar Circle.
Banking operations came to a standstill in Kerala after over 30,000 employees and officers of various banks went on strike over demands for wage revision. In the state capital, as part of the agitation, employees took out a march from Fine Arts College at Palayam to State Bank of India’s city branch near the Secretariat. According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) Joint Secretary, K S Krishna, ATMs had been loaded fully yesterday and customers were unlikely to be hit due to the strike.
Punjab & Haryana
The industrial sector, including the MSME and large enterprises in Punjab and Haryana are likely to face problems for a couple of days as their business transactions may be hampered. Protesting employees, under the aegis of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), held rallies and demonstrations at several places including Ludhiana. “We do not want that customers should face any kind of inconvenience. But we were left with no option except to go on strike,” UFBU (Ludhiana), Convener, Naresh Gaur said.
The All India Bank Employees Association, a body of over 10 lakh bankers in government and private lenders had demanded an early revision of the wages which is due since November 1, 2017. “The strike notice has been served to Indian Banks Association (IBA) representing the bank management and the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), New Delhi,” CH Venkatachalam, general secretary, AIBEA, told IANS.
In the last wage settlement, for the period November 2012 to October 2017, IBA had given a wage hike of 15 per cent. IBA officials reasoned that the hike in wages had to be limited to 2 per cent as banks were grappling with a rise in non-performing assets.