Bank unions plan strike over currency notes shortage, workload

Bank unions are planning an agitation, including strike, to protest the heavy work pressure faced by employees in the wake of demonetisation and lack of improvement in the supply of currency notes.

While the government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) say there has been some improvement in supply of currency notes in the system, the ground reality is different, say the unions.

C H Venkatachalam, general secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), told Business Standard that if the problems for bank employees continue, the unions would be compelled to strike.

According to Venkatachalam, many ATMs are running out of cash and people have to stand in long queues at bank branches, making them restless and unruly, escalating into quarrels with bank staff. Having to work under such circumstances affects employees' physical as well as mental health, he added.

He said the situation is increasingly becoming unbearable and employees, including officers, are on the brink of losing their patience due to sheer fatigue. They are unable to tell customers when the normal supply and flow of cash would be restored, AIBEA said.

While the problem of cash crunch still persists, lack of enough supply of small-denomination currency notes is also a problem because the banks are yet to get the new Rs500 currency notes and customers are reluctant to accept Rs2,000 notes.

Similarly, Rs100 notes are also in short supply. As a result, ATMs are non-functional and branches are finding it tough to deal with agitated customers, the union noted.

Another problem is that the RBI is supplying soiled and damaged Rs100 currency notes, which customers are unwilling to accept. For employees also, dealing with soiled notes is a big health hazard, AIBEA said.