Bank employees strike hurts trade & retail customers


Bank employees and officers shout slogansdemanding hike in their salaries in Bangalore. PTI

The only consolation was that private sector and foreign banks, including ICICI Bank, Citibank and StanChart Bank remained open, but the relief was much too little as the 26 public sector banks account for over 70 per cent of all banking activities in the country.
Reports from various parts said ATMs have no cash left. Union leaders claimed that two-day strike that began yesterday was successful.
"Branches are closed across the country," United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) convener C H Venkatachalam said.
However, Bank of Baroda CMD M D Mallya said,"Our ATMs are catering to the needs of the customers. We are trying to ensure that ATMs functions normally."
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Lok Sabha: "I am told that talks are on between bank associations and worker unions."
Union leaders said Indian Banks' Association had earlier proposed an average 17.5 per cent hike in pay to banking employees, but later pruned it to be 13 per cent.
Official sources, however, said that the IBA has now more or less agreed to 17.5 per cent in increase.
Meanwhile, a meeting has been called later today by the Chief Labour Commissioner here to sort out the issue between IBA and bank unions.

Bank union leaders said they will wait for the outcome of the meeting, before deciding on the next course of action.
Besides wage hike, unions are also pressing for a second chance to opt for pension to employees who had not done so earlier.
Official sources said if employees were given another chance to opt for pension, banks would require to shell out Rs 6,000 crore more to the safety net of their employees.
IBA is asking employees to contribute around Rs 2,000 for this, while unions are agreeing for Rs 1,800 crore.
IBA also wants employees to contribute one-third to their pension, while banks are ready to chip in with two-third of the funds required in future as well.
Reports received from the country's financial capital Mumbai, besides Kolkata and Chennai and other parts said that branches of PSU banks remained closed, affecting cheque clearing operations, as well as money market functions and government accounts.
Besides public sector banks, employees of small private sector banks like Federal Bank, Karnataka Bank, South Indian Bank, ING Vysya Bank and Lakshmi Vilas Bank also participated in the strike because some of their staff are governed by the wage settlement process with the Indian Banks Association.

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