A day after the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) raised its wage hike offer to 8 percent from 6 percent, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on Saturday called a nationwide strike on December 26 against bank mergers and pay revision.
UFBU, the consortium of nine unions in the banking sector, is opposed to the merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank, the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) said on Saturday.
The AIBEA and the NOBW are constituents of the UFBU.
"Merger is not a solution. It (merger of BoB, Dena and Vijaya banks) was a unilateral decision of the government. Views of other stakeholders like shareholders and employees should have been sought," NOBW Vice President Ashwani Rana told IANS.
Rana said the government has been short-sighted as it can't wish away non-performing (NPAs) assets through mergers. It is only destroying the public sector banks, which is one of the few remaining sectors that provide government jobs, he said.
On wages, the unions are demanding a hike of 25 percent, increment for all bank employees under scale 1 to 7 (instead of IBA's offer to only those employees in junior scale of 1 to 3) and rejection of the proposal to introduce variable pay.
"The offer of 8 per cent is well below our expectations. We were given 15 per cent hike in the 10th bipartite settlement that happened in 2015 but was due from 2012 and this settlement expired on October 30, 2017. Wage revision under the 11th settlement is due from November 1, 2017 and our demand is for a 25 percent hike," Rana said.
Though wage revision in state-run banks happens every five years, it may be difficult for them to raise wages substantially as high NPAs and losses have hurt the sector.
"We strongly reject the plan to introduce variable pay as it will be unfair to those employees who are posted at branches and cities where opportunities are less. There is no rationale for mimicking the private banks as we are into social banking. We are bound to implement all the government schemes unlike the private players," Rana said.
With Christmas on December 25, the banks would effectively be closed for two days.