Bank services hit across country as staff go on strike

REUTERS  Rupak de Chowdhuri

REUTERS Rupak de Chowdhuri

The call for strike was made by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions in the sector including All India Bank Officer's Confederation (AIBOC) and All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), after its meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner AK Nayak regarding its several demands fell through.

The unions chose to go ahead with the strike after conciliatory talks between the unions and Indian Banks' Association called by the chief labour commissioner and the Department of Financial Services on Friday failed to resolve the issues.

The strike has been called by all unions under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). According to M S Jaishankar, the president of the All India SBI Officers' Coordination Committee no work will take place in public sector banks.

Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) leader R Ajay Kumar alleged that the NDA government is adopting pro-private bank policies since it came to power.

Besides the above demands, the union also wants withdrawal of the proposed financial resolution and deposit insurance (FRDA) Bill, total exemption of gratuity and leave encashment on retirement. Bankers also raised the issue of privatisation.

Venkatachalam, also stated that the government should abolish the bank board bureau and ensure stringent measures to recover the outstanding loans and accountability of top executives. But since service at branches will be affected, crowds are likely at ATMs. He said, "Wages and service conditions in the banking sector are governed by the industry level Bipartite Settlement signed by the Indian Banks' Association (IBA), Workmen Unions and Officers Associations operating in the banking sector". Speaking on the occasion, a bank official said around one million bankers working in around 132,000 branches were taking part in the country wide protest.

"As on date more than 70 per cent of bad debts of all banks are due to rampant and unethical lending to Corporates for which the nation is paying dearly", the statement added.

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