Banking unions threaten strike over unpaid demonetization overtime dues
Unions representing government-owned banks have threatened to go on strike and take legal action if the overtime dues owed to employees for working extra hours following demonetization aren't cleared. Millions rushed to banks following the government's demonetization decision on November 8, 2016, to exchange their currency. Staff members were forced to work longer hours as the banking system struggled to deal with the chaos.
Nearly 11 months since the demonetization announcement, an estimated four lakh employees who worked extra hours are still due to receive overtime pay. Depending on the pay package, a bank employee can earn between Rs. 100 to Rs. 300 per additional hour of work. The overall payout could range from a few to several crore rupees.
The All India Banks' Employees Association (AIBEA) said it has taken up the issue with the government. In case the dues aren't cleared, the union said it may go on strike or take legal action. Another union leader questioned why the banks aren't clearing the overtime dues, adding that "this pulls down the morale of the employees."
"At present, there are other pressing issues such as non-performing assets (NPA) and screening of bank accounts that these banks need to address on an immediate basis. HR issues have always taken a back seat for government banks," a senior public sector bank official said.
The issue of overdue payment was brought to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's attention and will likely be discussed during the next labor ministry meeting. The finance ministry had previously said it's looking at ways to compensate employees without modifying the fixed component of their pay packages. There was an expectation that the variable component would be increased but nothing concrete was announced.