Strike hits banking operations across the country

A strike by bank employees affiliated to the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) affected banking operations, including deposits and withdrawal of cash, across the country today.

About 10 lakh employees of public sector banks are on a one-day strike to press for wage revision and other demands.

All the members affiliated to nine bank employees and officers unions have gone on strike, United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) convener C H Venkatachalam said.

The strike has affected 85,000 bank branches across the country, resulting in non-clearance of around 40 lakh cheques worth around Rs24,000 crore, he said, adding that it has also affected government transactions as well as foreign exchange and money market transactions.

Affiliated unions of the UFBU will meet in Hyderabad on 23 December to decide the next course of action, including the option of going on an indefinite strike, he said.

Members of the forum, besides other things, are demanding immediate wage revision, which they claim is pending since 1 November 2012.

The wages and service conditions in the banking sector are governed by the industry-level bipartite settlements signed between the IBA and unions of bank employees and officers.

IBA, Venkatachalam said, has been delaying a wage agreement saying that banks' profits are coming down due to increased provisioning for bad loans and towards pension.

Both of these, however, are due to bad management and inflation, and are not due to the employees, he pointed out.

He, however, said operating profits of banks have almost doubled in the last four years.

The UFBU, apart from AIBEA, includes 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).