Public sector bank workers meet Jaitley, demand 25% wage hike

The trade unions of India's public sector banks on Friday asked finance minister Arun Jaitley to ensure early settlement of negotiations on wage revision.

In a meeting with representatives of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) in New Delhi, Jaitley assured them that financial services secretary R S Sandhu would look into the matter and expedite the wage revision, union leaders said.

The general secretaries of nine employees' unions under the UFBU umbrella were present at the meeting, along with D Raja, MP from the Communist Party of India.

The UFBU comprises five unions and four officer associations. Its convener M V Murali said the union leaders told Jaitley they had held about 10 rounds of discussions with bank managements, but the Indian Banks' Association (IBA, which represents the banks' management) was delaying the settlement.

"Despite 20 months having passed since the negotiations began, no significant improvement has been made towards an expeditious conclusion of the settlement. Moreover, IBA is offering the least increase, quoting non-affordability by banks in paying higher wages, partly because of an increase in non-performing assets," he said.

He claimed IBA had offered a "meagre" 11 per cent  increase in pay-slip components, against the union's demand of as much as 25 per cent.

The wage revision of public sector bank employees has been due since November 2012.

In the last round of wage revision settlement signed in 2010 (for the period between 2007 and 2012), the managements had agreed to a 17.5 per cent rise in salaries.

India has 27 public sector banks, with about 800,000 employees. These banks have about 70,000 branches across the country, including in areas where private banks refuse to venture.