Bank unions call two-day strike from 31 January as wage talks fail

Banks across the country will remain shut for two days, following a call by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) to observe nationwide strike on 31 January and 1 February 2020, after wage revision talks with the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) failed on Wednesday. 

The proposed bank strike coincides with the tabling of the Economic Survey on 31 January and the Budget presentation on 1 February, when Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting her second Budget in the Lok Sabha. 
Since 1 February is the first Saturday in that month, all commercial banks are expected to remain open on the Budget day. Notably, the stock markets have also decided to function on that day due to the presentation of Budget 2020-21.
Bank employees had struck work on 8 January along with the Bharat Bandh, making it the second bank strike in January.
The bandh, observed by 10 trade unions, including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC, along with six bank unions, affected banking operations, including ATM services. 
The UFBU, which represents nine trade unions, has also resolved to observe 3 days strike on 11th, 12th, and 13th March 2020, demanding early wage revision settlement which has been due since 1 November 2017.
On Monday, representatives of 9 constituents of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) held bipartite talks with the IBA but their wage-related demands were turned down. 
Bank unions sought a 20 per cent hike on pay slip components, merger of special allowance with basic pay and a uniform 5-day work week, along with other demands, including scrapping of New Pension Scheme, improvement in family pension and defined working hours for officers.
Among demands put forward by the trade unions included a raise in the minimum wage to Rs 21,000-Rs 24,000 per month, stopping the privatisation of public sector undertakings, and the repeal of the Citizens Amendment Act, National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
The bank unions had also raised objections to the proposed merger of 10 PSU banks to create four entities as announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August 2018.