Bank union AIBEA confirms two-day nation-wide strike from 30 May; some ATM operations could be hit

Mumbai: A two-day nation-wide bank strike which kicks off at 6 AM on 30 May (Wednesday), could trigger a nation-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.

Bank union AIBEA confirms two-day nation-wide strike from 30 May; some ATM operations could be hit

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 a strike and withdraw large sums of money. Banking operations, intra-government transaction, transaction clearances, import bills, etc will be impacted.

Around one million bank employees will go on strike from tomorrow,

 Who will be affected

All those who bank with public sector banks, private banks except ICICI, HDFC, Axis, YES and IndusInd bank will not be impacted. These five banks have no union and hence there are no participants for the 2-day strike called by bank unions. Foreign bank employees will also participate in the strike as they are part of the unions, but not officers, said Venkatachalam.

State Bank of India 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 and functioning 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 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 calls,” SBI said in a regulatory filing.

What is the strike about

People stand in queues at cash counters to deposit and withdraw money inside a bank in Chandigarh, India, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Ajay Verma – RTX2SY9C

The call for a nation-wide strike among others also opposes IBAs delay in resolving a charter of demands, governments casual approach to wage revision for bank employees, a meager offer of 2 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 and wage revision settlement to include all officers up to scale VII.

So far, 10 wage revision settlements have taken place at first in five-year intervals and then four-year intervals beginning in 1966. The next wage revision settlement is due on 17 November 2018

Banks have seven grades of officers from scale 1-VII. Grade 1 is the junior-most officer or entry level with grade 7 being the general manager category. As per 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 grade 1-3 and says will talk about grade 4-7 later.

The government is not revealing what are its plans. 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 about Commissioner (CLC) Rajan Verma convened a meeting with IBA and the 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 2 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 year after year banks have been earning more operating profits., said Venkatachalam. For instance, in 2015-16, the banks earned a total operating profit of Rs 1.37 lakh crores but banks provided  Rs 1.55 lakh crores towards bad loans thus wiping off profits. Hence, there was a net loss of Rs 18,000 crores. Similarly, in 2016-17, the banks earned a total operating profit of Rs 1.59 lakh crores but there was a provision of bad loans of Rs 1.7 lakh crores resulting in net loss of Rs 7,000 crores.

Taking the last 10 years from 2008-17 in the account, the banks have earned a total operating profit of Rs 9.2 lakh crore out of which Rs 6.6 lakh crore have been wiped off for bad loans, he said, adding, penalizing employees and officers with fewer ages on account of bad loans is not fair.

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