Karnataka high court restrains IDBI Bank employees from striking work

The Karnataka high court has passed an order preventing the unions and workmen of Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI Bank) in the state from ''carrying out strike'' from 28 to 31 March, and has issued guidelines to prevent them from obstructing services, offering a major relief to customers and the bank's management.

The high court has not only restrained IDBI staff in Karnataka from going ahead with their proposed strike from Monday, but also told them not to disrupt bank work during the crucial 28-31 March period.

"Needless to say, banking operations are essential to the functioning of a nation and fundamental to the lives its people. If the operations are brought to a halt, the domino effect will be felt not only on the people but also on the health of the economy. Since the strike will have a cascading effect, it is imperative that the respondents are prevented from carrying it out, especially when prima facie, there is a violation of IDBI (Staff) Rules of 1980," Justice Raghvendra S Chauhan observed in his order.

In a detailed interim order, the court restrained United Platform of IDBI Bank Unions, United Forum of IDBI Officers and Employees, IDBI Officers Organisation and IDBI Karmachari Sangh or their staffers/associates/agents from obstructing normal functioning at the office and other establishments of the bank or in any of its branches in Karnataka.

However, the court has allowed the unions to hold meeting within the union premises, but without any sloganeering or disrupting bank activity. The court also directed the employees to limit members of any delegation meeting the MD or CEO of the bank, to not more than four.

The employees are protesting the announcement made in the Union Budget that the government may reduce its shareholding to below 51 per cent in the bank, which had led to fear among staff that there could be change in service conditions and their retention.

The management said the employees proposed to go on strike despite assurances given by the bank. The bank's counsel also said that the call to strike work was illegal as the IDBI Staff Rules, 1980, prohibits the bank's officials from going on strike, joining any federation, trade unions, etc.

The court will hear further arguments in the case on 5 April.