Cheni, Feb 27: An umbrella body of nine bank unions has called a day-long strike on Tuesday to protest the government’s “anti-people banking reforms” and to press for compensation to employees for extra work done on account of demonetisation and booking loan defaulters. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), comprising nine unions — AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INBEF, INBOC, NOBW and NOBO — will observe the strike, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said in a statement here.
The strike will cover employees and officers in all public sector banks, including SBI, all old-generation private banks, foreign banks, regiol rural banks and cooperative banks. Venkatachalam told IANS: “The real mece affecting the Indian banking industry is the rise in bad loans and the number of wilful loan defaulters. “Fixing accountability for bad loans and taking action against the bank officials and wilful defaulters are the need of the hour and not formation of a ‘bad bank’.”
The Economic Survey 2016-17 suggested establishment of a “Bad Bank” to deal with the non-performing assets (NPA) or the bad loan issue. According to Venkatachalam, the idea was nothing but transferring the bad loans from one government entity to another. “The unions have been fighting for more than two decades against the reform measures of the government as these are against the interests of the general public and labour force in the country,” the AIBEA said. “Further, every effort is being made to outsource permanent jobs in the banking industry, which is fraught with risks,” it added. He said around 10 lakh bankers — ranging from officers to clerks — belonging to the nine unions will join the strike. Venkatachalam said the strike call comes after all attempts to find a solution to the demands raised by the unions yielded no results.
The conciliation meeting before the Chief Labour Commissioner on February 21 failed to break the deadlock as the bank magement body — Indian Banks Association (IBA) — did not agree to the union demands. Most state-run banks have informed customers that functioning of branches and offices will be hit if the strike is observed on Tuesday. Top private lenders — ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank — are not part of the union and will continue to function normally but cheque clearances would not take place. Besides, cash transactions will also be hit and the ATMs are likely to be emptied early during the day. (IANS)