Bank Strike: 10 lakh bankers on strike today, private players like ICICI & HDFC functional

Bank Strike: 10 lakh bankers on strike today, private players like ICICI & HDFC functional
Representational Image. Courtesy: PTI

Branches of public banks remained either closed or non-operational on Tuesday as an estimated 10 lakh staffers and officers went ahead with their day-long strike pressing for various demands, including accountability of top executives in the wake of mounting bad loans.

Services like cash deposits and withdrawal from branches and cheque clearances have been hit hard by the strike, which has been called under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).

The strike call comes after all attempts to find a solution to the demands raised by the unions yielded no results.

The conciliation meeting before the Chief Labour Commissioner on February 21 failed to break the deadlock as the bank management body – Indian Banks Association (IBA) – did not agree to the union demands.

“The strike has been forced on us because of adamant and insensitive attitude of the bank management and IBA. They even did not bother to talk on providing compensation for extra hours put in by bank staff during the demonetisation period,” All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam told PTI.

The UFBU is an umbrella body of 9 unions, but two of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliates – the National Organisation of Bank Workers and the National Organisation of Bank Officers – are not part of the stir.

Bank Strike: 10 lakh bankers on strike today, private players like ICICI & HDFC functional 1
A notice outside a bank branch informing customers about the strike. Picture Courtesy: ANI

The strike will cover employees and officers in all public sector banks, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda, all old-generation private banks, foreign banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks.

Top private lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank are not part of the union and will continue to function normally but cheque clearances would not take place.

Unions are also opposed to the proposed labour reforms of the government and outsourcing of permanent jobs in the banking sector.

Some of the demands include compensation of employees and officers for extra hours they put in following demonetisation in November and early initiation of next wage revision.

They have also demanded adequate recruitment in all cadres, stringent measures to recover bad loans and accountability of top executives. Besides, they have pitched for criminal action against wilful defaulters.

The UFBU, which claims membership of nearly 10 lakh across banks, also requested the government for cost reimbursement of demonetisation to banks.

Most state-run banks have already informed customers that functioning of branches and offices will be hit if the strike is observed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, cash transactions will be affected and ATMs are likely to be emptied early during the day.

As many as 27 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business.

With agency inputs

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