PSU bank employees strike work over pay

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of some nine public sector bank unions and some old generation private banks, has gone on a nationwide strike demanding wage increase for employees in government-run banks.

The strike affected normal retail banking operations like cheque clearance and withdrawals from branches across the country, since majority of the employees owing allegiance to unions were on strike.

Branches of private sector banks like ICICI and HDFC remained open. Also, the ATMs of most banks were reported to be functioning normally.

Bank unions are demanding a minimum 25 per cent increase in wages, while the bank managements want it limited to 11 per cent, which too, according to sources at the Indian Banks Association (IBA), an umbrella organisation of banks, increase the wage bill of banks by at least Rs3,150 crore.

This will more than double to almost Rs7,000 crore if arrears of pension and other perks are included.

The new contract once agreed to will come into effect from November 2012 for a five year-period.

Banks have informed customers about the inconvenience they are likely to face.

''UFBU has given a notice to IBA calling for nationwide bank strike on November 12 and All-India State Bank Officers' Federation and All-India State Bank of India Staff Federation being a part of UFBU will also participate in the said strike,'' SBI had said in a statement.

''Since the said call is given at all-India level covering all banks, the bank will not be impacted separately,'' the statement said.

As of now, there are no chances of an early settlement as the IBA and the UFBU have failed to reach an agreement on the wage issue.

This is not the first time that public sector bank employees have gone on a nationwide strike. They had gone on strike for two days beginning 10 February after discussions with the IBA failed.

The issue of wage revision of public sector bank employees has been pending since November 2012. At the same time, the wage gap between state-run and private sector banks have been rising over the years.

There are 27 public sector banks with about 50,000 branches across the country with a combined employee strength of about 8 lakh. These banks among them also control at least 70 per cent of the total banking industry even now.