Demonetisation: Bank workers threaten stir over unpaid overtime

Unions representing employees of government-run banks have threatened to launch a strike and also move the courts over their unpaid overtime dues from when they worked long hours to handle the demonetisation rush.

The Union government's decision on 8 November last year to scrap bank notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination wiped out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation, triggering a countrywide rush at banks to exchange old notes for legal tender.

Depending on salary, a bank employee is entitled to receive Rs100 to Rs300 for every extra hour worked.

C H Venkatachalam, general secretary of All India Banks' Employees Association (AIBEA), said almost none of the banks have cleared the overtime dues.

According to Hindustan Times, four lakh bank employees who worked overtime are yet to receive their dues even 11 months after the event.

In some cases, staffers worked 14 hours at a stretch and their leaves were cancelled as the system struggled to deal with the unprecedented rush, which lasted around three months. There are about 8 lakh employees with these banks.

Banks estimate the number of staffers who have pending dues at about 4 lakh.

No bank, according to the unions, has cleared the dues in full. The issue was brought to the attention of finance minister Arun Jaitley and is likely to be taken up in the next meeting with the labour ministry, union officials said.

''We are yet to understand why banks are not paying the overtime dues to employees who are eligible for overtime dues … this pulls down the morale of the employees,'' Ashwani Rana, another union member, said.

On the managements' viewpoint, a senior official of a Mumbai-based public sector bank told HT, ''At present, there are other pressing issues such as non-performing assets (NPA) and screening of bank accounts that these banks need to address on an immediate basis..HR issues have always taken a back seat for government banks.''