Bank workers and Bank officers across the nation are a 48 hours strike which starts from May 30, 2018, and will end on May 31, 2018. According to a report by Business Standard, efforts by Additional Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) Rajan Verma in a conciliatory meeting between the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), finance ministry officials and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) to strike a deal and avert the strike failed and the 48 hours strike has become a reality.

The strike has found broad support across Bank employees association and has been called by United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) which includes National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI).

Two-day strike across India

More than one million bank officers will participate in the two-day strike. The last wage revision happened in 2012, and a 15 percent hike was given. The exercise cost the banks Rs 83 billion. The General Secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, D T Franco said that the 2 percent wage hike would cost banks some Rs 5 billion. The Unions are asking for a 15 percent hike which will cost the banks 120 billion rupees.

Banks have a seven-tier grading system and all employees come under this ambit. Grade one is the junior most employees and grades seven comprising of the general manager level of officers. Government is willing to talk about wage revision for Grade 1 to 3 but has been ambiguous about wage revisions of Grade 4 to 7.

The government is not ready to reveal its plans for wage revision and was not willing to commit to anything in talks with Bank Employees Association.

The wage revision

The Bank employees wage revision is due from November 1, 2017.

The 2 percent salary hike had been already rejected by the Bank Unions.

An exhaustive communication was sent by the AIBOC to the government, and a nationwide demonstration was also conducted to make the government aware of the seriousness of the demands. Subsequently, the SBI in a notice on May 21 gave the details of the planned strike on May 30 and 31.

The last wage settlement had given a rise of 15 percent. IBA officials have stated that the banks are already grappling with the problem of substantial non-performing assets and therefore the wage rise has to be capped at 2 percent.

However, UFBU convener Devidas Tuljapurkar said that due to new provisions of NPA the banks are showing losses. He added that the bank employees had worked hard to make government initiatives like Jan-Dhan, demonetization, Mudra and Atal Pension Yojana successful and there has been a massive increase in workload.

Therefore the hike which the government is offering is minimal.

Bank employees are today working in a much stressed out environment. The sheer volume of business and work is stupendous.

The implementation of different welfare schemes has also fallen on the shoulders of bank employees. All these work which come under nonbanking business adds to the already difficult banking tasks which bank employees have to complete.

The timing of the strike has been at the most inappropriate time. It will be the month end and salary time for most workers. With the inclusion of ATM security guards in the strike; ATM withdrawals are bound to get affected.

The two-day nationwide strike will be affecting 2.20 lakh ATM’s. However, the customers could panic and withdraw large sums of money. Banking operations which include intra-government transactions, transaction clearances, import bills, etc. will be severely affected.

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