Banking operations in public sector banks hit a wall as nearly 10 lakh employees went on a two-day strike. Since the timing of the strike is in the end of the year, salary deposition would definitely slump. This is because 21 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business in the country. The strike would impact deposits in branches, fixed deposit renewal, government treasury operation and money market operations. However, private banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank are functioning normal except the cheque clearance part.
Bank employee unions have been opposing a 2 per cent wage hike proposed by the IBA or Indian Banks’ Association, among other demands. Last time, the hike was 15%.
“It is kind of an insult to the employees of public sector banks…to be offered this kind of meagre hike. We had no other option but to go on strike, forgoing two days’ salary,” said Ravinder Gupta, joint general secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC).
Strike Day 1
In Rajasthan, nearly 30,000 employees participated in the bank strike. “The strike is likely to affect Rs10,000 crore worth transactions daily. Nearly 5,500 bank branches are shut and 30,000 employees are on strike in support of nationwide stir,” the United Forum of Bank Unions convenor (Rajasthan) Mahesh Mishra said.
ATMs run out of cash in Moradabad. Locals say, ‘We are facing problems because there is no cash in the ATMs around. Even there are connectivity issues’.
In Maharashtra, nearly 60,000 sectoral employees are protesting. The state-run bank branches in Mumbai were either shut or witnessed thin activity. Employees of all the 21 state-run commercial banks, regional rural banks, 13 old generation private banks and six foreign banks are participating in the protest, unions claimed.
In Kolkata, all bank branches and ATMs remained closed. Normal banking work was paralysed on the first day of the two-day nation-wide bank strike. Bank unions have claimed total response across West Bengal to the agitation.
It’s hard to ignore the role of public sector banks in the success of government schemes like Mudra, Jan Dhan Yojana and demonetisation. The reward is very scarce, hardly noticeable. We all know how much the buying power of our currency has decreased over a year. So, indirectly, salary didn’t increase at all. A hike of just 2% is like an insult to their their tireless work since the demonetisation. This incident can easily deflate the claim of the government of improving growth rate and economic developments. If the government cannot channel the effects of so-called ‘increased’ revenues, then the government is not democratic (not for the people).