Bank Employees Begin Strike Today

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Aug. 6 – Employees of India’s private, overseas and state banks numbering more than 900,000 will begin their two-day strike today.

An estimated 26 state-run banks, 10 private banks and eight foreign banks will be affected when its workers join the strike organized by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). “We seek expedition of wage revisions,” C H Venkatachalam, convener of the UFBU,was quoted by Bloomberg. “There is no question of calling off the strike now.”

The banking workers are demanding at least a 17.5 percent salary hike, pension benefits and that family members of those who die in service be employed.

One Response

  • danendra jain says:

    Government understands the language of violence, disturbances in public life and destruction of public property. Bankers are really simple and devoted workers that they have been in dialogue process with IBA, Indian Bankers Association for last two years patiently and peacefully. Wage revision of bank employees is due since November 2007 and the charter of demand was submitted to government in July 2007.Dialogue process has been continuing for last two years. It is sad that government understands the importance of any demand only when strikers burns the buses and trains, create road jams, blocks movement of train and what not. This has been seen in the case of strikers of other departments.

    Government comes out of hibernation only when huge loss is incurred to exchequer. Ministers and the competent authority or labour commissioner have not understood the gravity of the matter, genuinity of demand of bank employees, and reality of bankers even after lapse of two years after the charter of demand was submitted to government of India and the IBA, Indian Banks Association an body which starts negotiation with banker’s united forum on the issue of wage revision or other relevant demands.

    Government has not tried to realize that workload on bank employees have multiplied during last two decades due to almost ban or regulated policy adopted by government on employment in banks during eighties and nineties, large scale removal of employees under voluntary retirement scheme VRS of the year 2000, the continuous natural retirement, dismissal and death of bank employees without fresh recruitment of at least same number of employees.

    It is known to all that there has been technological upgradation in banks to a large extent during last two three years. But it was also made possible only by the hard labour done by experienced bank employees for more than 12 hours a day. Without disturbing customer service bankers took it a challenge, accepted new technology and converted most of the bank’s branches as CBS branch. Banks opened thousands of ATM, introduced E-Banking, Mobile banking, SMS banking, tele-banking and many other customer friendly services for the delightment of its customers. There has been continuous improvement in the services extended by bankers and it will not be an exaggeration to say that it is the only banks run by Government which extends services to the maximum possible satisfaction of its customers and on the contrary all other department of the government or most of the PSUs have failed to please their customers. Such paradigm shift occurred only due to efficiency exhibited by bank employees without disturbing routine normal works.

    After adoption of Core Banking Solution ( called as CBS), Banks has introduced several other non-banking products like Insurance, demat service, share trading, selling of mutual fund products, tax collection, old age pension payment and many other products. It is only bank employees who accept newer and newer challenges and strive hard to please customers. It is unfortunate that bank employees are still in bad taste in corridors of Ministers.

    It has to be kept in mind that there has been continuous wage erosion of bank employees during last two decades whereas on the contrary there has been quantum jump in the salary of state and central government employees through fifth and sixth pay commission report implementation. Frustration has been on increase among bank employees since long. To add fuel to fire media has tarnished the image of bank employees by creating false hype that bankers are high wage islanders. As a matter of fact wage disparity and , indifferent attitude of government has widened to such a large extent that bankers are opting for joining other private companies. There has been sharp change and reversal in choice and preference of job seekers. Three decades ago fresher used to prefer joining bank service than even IAS and IPS services. Present position is that even fresh graduate and post graduate prefers peon’s job in central services than joining as officer in a bank.

    It is worthwhile to mention here that despite low wages and high work load it is banks which have been earning profit continuously and growing in profit year after year. On the contrary most of other businesses run by government are either showing loss or showing fall in profit or there is position of complete stagnation or on the verge of closure. Even companies like BSNL is likely to book loss to the tune of Rs10000/- crore and more. Indian airlines are running in losses in thousands of crores. All oil companies, fertilizer companies and many PSU are in losses and running on the aid and ventilator provided by Government. It is surprising that government had happily increased salary of even loss making companies by 30 to 60% through sixth pay commission on the eve of election just to enhance their vote bank and the same government thinks it fit to ignore genuine demand of 20% wage hike of bank employees on flimsy ground

    Government instead of listening to banks argument in favour of their demand for 20% wage hike has been postponing dialogue on one plea or the other for last two years. The humiliating position for employees came to fore when government backtracked on its own commitment of 17.5% wage hike and green signal to second option of pension to bank employees on conditions mutually agreed upon by IBA and Bank Employee’s United Forum. Government first reduced the offer from 17.5% to 15% and when bank employees disagreed and preferred strike, government added fuel to fire by further reducing the offer from 15% to 13%. After such humiliation , it is but natural that bank employees will not only go on two days strike but resort to indefinite strike and many more steps in near future to pressurize the government to succumb to and understand the bitter truth and government should be held responsible for all types of inconvenience caused to customers due to strike.

    It is to kept in mind that bankers are dealing in money and any dilution in honesty, sincerity and devotion of bank employees may cause irreparable damage to intrinsic health of banks. As of now corruption in banks is undoubtedly lower than all other departments of Government and other PSUs. Exodus of quality people may be harmful to banks. It is an open secret that banks have been used by politicians to enlarge their vote banks. Profitability of banks has suffered to a great extent due to vote bank policies of ruling party. Only God knows what will happen to bank if quality people leave the job and talented job seekers hate bank jobs.

    Danendra Jain ,Ganaraj Choumuhani, Agartala 799001
    7th August 2009

    Copy of my letter dated 203h March 2007

    Government works only when there is mass agitation, large scale inconvenience to general public, demonstration, gherao of Parliament, misbehavior, violence and unrest throughout the country. Bankers are in agitation mood for last two years and more due to unresponsiveness of the government knowing very well that there is discrimination between SBI (last year government agreed to their demand when they went on indefinite strike) and other PSU banks as also private banks. Why? After all SBI and other banks are performing the same task. Government accounts are in all banks, government sponsored schemes are implemented equally in all banks including SBI, government revenues are collected in all banks and so on ……There should not be therefore any discrimination between employees of SBI and other PSU banks.

    Government perhaps wants to divide the bankers and rule undemocratically. First they divided them in two groups – award staff and officer staff. Then Private and Public sector banks. Now SBI and non-SBI banks. Their divisive policy failed and now all nine unions of banks are united and they call strike from United Forum only and hence divisive policies of the government gets punctured.

    Our constitution provides equal pay for equal work without any discrimination for gender, position, posting or any thing whatsoever it may be. Equal opportunity for all. Equal status and respect to all without any bias for caste or any community. Unfortunately ground reality is different. It is sad that government works without opening their eyes and ears. Ministers and administrative officers sitting at the helm of affairs are busy in their own welfare. Their wealth is growing day and night, by leaps and bounds. They do not even bother for constitution or for that matter any genuine demands of the public.

    They are awakened from their deep slumber only when there is mass strike, mob indiscipline and mass destruction. In such case they may accede to ingenuine demands too. When the demand made by SBI last year was not ingenuine, how the same demand by other PSU banks are being ignored by the government. The only answer is that they want unrest, public upheaval and discomfort to all. In the recent past week, West Bengal CM Budhadeo Bhattacharya retreated only when there was mass destruction of public property and killings of innocent agitators.

    Government knows very well that lacs of crores of banks assets are at risk in the hands of borrowers who have been financed from the banks and whose advances have become NPA. Government also knows that advances categorized are non-recoverable only because of corrupt and ineffective administration and judiciary throughout the country. Still government and party leaders at ground level are recommending financing to ineligible person to add fuel to fire. NPA are growing year after year .Data furnished by banks may be rosy to earn good wishes of the Ministry. But bitter truth is that two out of three borrowers are cheating the banks and it is true that management fails to recover the money from them. Government does not have any will to recover the money from such willful defaulters and help banks to raise their profitability. Rather banks are being compelled to show profit by way of cut in salary of employees and by exploitation of employees. See the extent of exploitation _

    It is banks only where 8 to 8 banking and 7 day banking or anywhere banking is in practice. On the contrary for central and state government employees it is mostly 5 day working and 5 hours work practice. Why such discrimination between banking and non banking employees. It is therefore government to blame for strike in banks. Bankers are providing best customer service to its customers. In all other government departments in the country works MOVE more and more slowly and that too only after payment of some bribes to the dealing person.

    Therefore even from the point of view of corruption too, bankers are more or less honest compared to employees of central and state government. .Why banks demands are then not heard by the government in time. What for there is frequent strike? Why government is silent spectator of malady prevailing in their own offices where salary is of little use for employees because they are more indulged in earning wealth by unfair means. At least government should learn lesson from the standard of salary offered by other private organization to their employees and where employees are nothing but loyal to their employer. In government departments on the other honest workers are tortured and shunted whereas dishonest but yes-men flourish speedily. What is this culture? Who is to blame for such unhealthy and unethical situation in the country? It is only Netas of the country who are to be blamed squarely for such large scale erosion in values.

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