A two-day bank strike followed by a weekend will affect financial transactions at branches and ATMs of public sector banks this week. Four employee unions of public sector banks have threatened to go on a two-day strike from September 26 to protest against the government's proposed merger of 10 state-run banks to create four banks. The nation-wide
bank strike was declared by four bank staff unions—All lndia Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All lndia Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), lndian National Bank Officers' Congress (INBOC) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO). Central trade union All India Trade Union Congress also announced its support to the strike.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on August 30 announced that the government will
merge several PSU banks with an aim to bring down the total number to 12 from 19 in 2017. Two-day strike and weekend
Due to the strike, several banks across the country will be closed on September 26 and September 27. The next day September 28 will be the last Saturday of the month and September 29 is a Sunday, and hence banks will be closed on those two days.
State Bank of India has already said that normal functioning of SBI branches will be affected due to the strike. "While the bank has made all arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices, it is likely that work in our bank may be impacted to some extent by the strike," said SBI.
However, online facilities to conduct financial transactions will be available.
Bank ATMs may also run out of cash during the strike as cash refilling is mostly done under bank officers' supervision, AIBOC's R Sekaran told the Times of India. Cash re-filled in ATM is unlikely to last till the strike is over, Sekaran added. Operations of 2.12 lakh ATMs and transactions worth Rs 48,000 crore are expected to be affected across the country, the report added.
Bank employee unions' demands
Apart from their opposition to the proposed mergers of the ten PSU banks, the bank staff unions have also listed out nine demands.
The unions have demanded expeditious wage revision, immediate introduction of a -five-day week in full and reduction of cash transaction hours and regulated working hours.
Besides, they demand to halt undue interference in the existing procedure of vigilance cases by outside agencies; settlement of issues pertaining to retirees-updation of pension as per RBI formula/revision of family pension without any ceiling, quantum and percentage; and medical insurance at par with serving employees.
More strikes ahead?
In a letter to the Chairman, Indian Banks' Association, signed by the General Secretaries of the four organisations, the unions have threatened an indefinite strike from the second week of November 2019.
Moreover, two major unions in the banking sector on Thursday announced that they would go on a one-day strike on October 22 protesting against the merger of government-owned banks. The two unions are All India bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI).
In a joint communication to the Chairman, Indian Banks' Association (IBA) the lobby for banks and the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) Ministry of Labour, New Delhi, the two unions said they proposed to go on strike from 6 a.m. on October 22 to 6 a.m. on October 23.The demands listed out by the two unions are: stop merger of banks, stop banking sector reforms, recover bad loans and take stringent action on defaulters, not penalising the customers with penal charges, stop attack on job security and recruit adequate people.