As another round of wage talks have failed to break the deadlock, the United Forum for Bank Union (UFBU) has charted an agitation beginning from January 31.
As a result, bank employees across the country are set to strike work, first for two days from January 31 and then for three days from March 11. In case a consensus is not reached with Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) over wages of the bank staff, the unions have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 1.
The latest round of negotiations for 11th bipartite settlement took place on January 13. The wage revision of the bank employees has been pending since 2017.
The IBA failed to accept the demands put forth by the representatives of nine constituents of the UFBU, who attended the meeting. The unions are demanding a 20% hike on payslip components and five-day banking. Other demands include merger of special allowance with basic pay and scrapping of New Pension Scheme (NPS).
“The banking sector is not in a healthy financial state. The IBA says that given those constraints, our demands can’t be met,” said Pradip Biswas, vice president of Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), while speaking to NewsClick. However, “it is not the fault of the employees; it’s the mounting NPAs,” he added.
Biswas explained to NewsClick, how the brunt of the non-perf orming assets (NPA) is now being passed on to the bank staff. “The IBA has introduced performance-linked incentives. Though they are linked with operating profit, they will be limited by the net profits,” he said.
Despite registering increase in the operating profits, the banks continue to record less net profits because of the huge amounts of bad loans. This, when linked with the wages, as Biswas explained, is not acceptable to the bank employees.
To press for their demand, the bank employees earlier this month had joined the one-day general strike called by 10 Central Trade Unions.
The second day of the next scheduled strike by the bank employees will coincide with the Budget day, February 1, while on the first day of the strike, January 31, the Economic Survey will be presented in Parliament.
“We chose these two days so that the matter also gains attention of the Finance Ministry and it decides to intervene,” Biswas said.
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