Banks go on a strike: Which services would be affected?
Across India, banking services are expected to be impacted greatly this weekend as bank unions go on strike from today (January 31, 2020). The two-day strike will cause public sector banks to remain closed for three days, including Sunday (February 2). Notably, the strike also coincides with the Budget session of the Parliament. Here are more details.
Why are bank unions on strike?
The United Forum of Bank Unions had called a nationwide bank strike from January 31-February 1 over wage-related demands. UFBU is a forum of nine bank unions, including All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organization of Bank Workers (NOBW). The strike was called after the unions' demands for a 20% hike on payslip components weren't met.
Bank unions also demand 5-day workweeks, improved pension system, etc.
The bank unions have also demanded five-day workweeks, the merger of special allowance with basic pay, withdrawal of the new pension scheme, updation of pension, etc. Notably, the wage revision for public sector banks has been pending since November 2017. Employees had gotten a 15% hike in the last wage settlement, which was for the period November 2012-October 2017.
Previous discussions between bank unions, management failed
Reportedly, discussions between the unions and bank management have been on for 30 months. AIBEA General Secretary CH Venkatachalam told IANS that a January 27 Delhi meeting with the Chief Labor Commissioner failed to reach a conclusion. The CLC then advised the Indian Banks Association to hold direct talks with bank unions, however, a January 30 meeting in Mumbai also remained inconclusive, Venkatachalam said.
Which banks will be affected?
As the bank unions went ahead with their strike from Friday, several PSU banks could be massively affected. The State Bank of India, India's largest lender, informed its customers that services could be hit during the strike. Cash withdrawal and deposit, cheque clearances, instrument issuance, and loan disbursement operations could be affected. However, private lenders like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will remain operational.
Cheques worth Rs. 23,000 crore couldn't be cleared: Venkatachalam
Venkatachalam told IANS, "In the clearing grids in Mumbai, Chennai, and Delhi, about 31 lakh cheques worth about Rs. 23,000cr could not be cleared due to the strike. Most bank branches remained closed. Cash couldn't be deposited or withdrawn." Venkatachalam added that operations have been hit in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, UP, MP, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, etc.
Bank unions had also joined recent 'Bharat bandh'
Earlier this month, bank unions had joined the trade unions' general strike or 'Bharat bandh' on January 8. Their current two-day strike significantly coincides with the presentation of the Economic Survey on Friday and the Union Budget on Saturday.