Mumbai: A two-day nation-wide bank strike which kicks off at 6 AM on 30 May (Wednesday) could trigger a country-wide cash crunch, said C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA). "People will start withdrawing money, creating a panic situation and many ATMs could go dry," he said.
Of the around 2.20 lakh ATMs in the country, some are outsourced. Though there may be cash in the ATMs, customers tend to panic in the event of strike and withdraw large sums of money. Banking operations, intra-government transactions, transaction clearances, import bills, among other transactions will be impacted over the 48-hour period.
Around one million bank employees will go on strike from tomorrow. The two-day nation-wide strike will end on Friday, 1 June at 6 AM.
Who will not be affected?
Those who bank with ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, YES Bank and IndusInd Bank will not be impacted by the strike. These five banks have no trade unions and hence won't participate in the two-day strike called by around nine bank unions. Foreign bank employees will also participate in the nation-wide strike as they are members of these unions, but not their bank officers, said Venkatachalam.
State Bank of India (SBI) said the Indian Banks Association (IBA) has communicated to the bank that the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBA) has served a notice to go on a nationwide bank strike on 30-31 May, 2018.
Several other banks, including Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank and Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB), have also said that their services are likely to be impacted if the strike takes place.
The United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU) is an umbrella body of various bank unions like the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees' Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers' Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).
"All India State Bank Officers Federation and All India State Bank of India Staff Federation are members of UFBU. Thus, it is likely that our bank will also be impacted to some extent by the said strike call," SBI said in a regulatory filing.
What is the strike about?
The call for a nation-wide strike follows the IBA's delay in resolving a charter of demands, the government's casual approach to wage revisions for bank employees and a meager offer of a two percent hike in wage revision.
UFBU has demanded an expeditious and early wage revision settlement, adequate increase in salary and improvement in other service conditions. Wage revision settlements must include all officers up to scale VII. The next wage revision settlement is due on 17 November, 2018.
Banks have seven grades of officers from scale I to VII. Grade one is the junior-most or entry level officer with grade seven comprising of the general manager level of officers. As per a government decision, wage revision takes place on a composite basis for all the seven grades, says Venkatachalam. “This time around the government is willing to talk about wage revision settlement for Grade 1-3 and is unwilling to discuss about Grade 4-7, which it says will be discussed later. The government is not revealing what are its plans on the issue. If they give more or less in terms of a salary hike to either the junior or senior grade officers, there will be trouble. But the government was not willing to commit to anything in our talks yesterday,” he said.
“The Chief Labour Commissioner JK Sagar, and Additional Commissioner (CLC) Rajan Verma, convened a meeting with the IBA and the other bank unions because of the strike notice. We explained that we are ready to negotiate and are not saying that our demands should be met in totality. But to say that there will be only a two percent increase is insulting,” he said.
Bank profits used for clearing bad loans
The governed expressed its inability to pay more to the employees saying banks had not earned enough profits. But the fact remains that year after year banks have been earning more operating profits, said Venkatachalam.
For instance, in fiscal 2015-16, the banks earned a total operating profit of Rs 1.37 lakh crore, but banks set aside Rs 1.55 lakh crore towards bad loans thus wiping-off profits. Hence, there was a net loss of Rs 18,000 crore. Similarly in fiscal 2016-17, banks earned a total operating profit of Rs 1.59 lakh crore but the provision for bad loans was Rs 1.7 lakh crore, resulting in a net loss of Rs 7,000 crore.
Taking the last 10 years, from 2008-17 into account, banks have earned a total operating profit of Rs 9.2 lakh crore out of which Rs 6.6 lakh crore has been wiped off, for bad loans, Venkatachalam said, adding, penalising employees and officers with lower wages on account of bad loans is unfair.
(With inputs from PTI)
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Updated Date: May 29, 2018 18:43:49 IST