Bankers on two-day strike over wage settlement

[ Marli Kamki ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 31: As part of the two-day bank strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), demanding “expedition of wage settlement due since November 2017,” there was complete shutdown of the State Bank of India (SBI) and several other public sector banks across the state with several employees also demonstrating outside the SBI regional office here on Friday.
“It is a nationwide strike, and if our demands are not fulfilled we will continue with our peaceful and phase-wise agitation,” said one of the protesting bankers, Binju Karlo, who is currently heading the SBI Officers’ Association, Itanagar Region.
“We also have families to look after, and due to inflation since last many years we have been demanding a decent wage revision,” said another banker, Kukung Tayeng.
Stating that they have been “compelled to protest” despite the established norm of pay cut for participating in such strikes, another protestor informed that despite three rounds of negotiations with the Indian Banks’ Association on 30 January, nothing fruitful has come up.
An SBI official, who chose not to be named, confided that in view of the two-day strike, all operational ATMs in Itanagar were replenished with cash on Thursday. Similar steps have been taken by other SBI branches across the state, he added.
Speaking to The Arunachal Times, Arunachal Pradesh Rural Bank (APRB) Chairman Dipak Kumar Gupta informed that although the associations of various regional banks are not participating in the current strike, “there might be effect on the rural bank, particularly relating to investments, if the strike continues, as every investment in the bank is routed through the SBI.
“Although the APRB is a joint undertaking of the Centre, the state government and the SBI, we assure no inconveniences to our customers as all our branches across the state have sufficient cash stocks,” he said.
The chairman said customer services would not be hampered in any way.
Expressing similar concerns, Apex Bank Managing Director Tsering Thongdok also acknowledged that the bank’s business would certainly be affected if the strike continues. Responding to a query from this daily, he said the Apex Bank is not part of the strike.
Other demands of the protesting banking employees include five-day banking, merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of the new pension scheme, updating pension, improving family pension, allocation to the staff welfare fund based on operating profits, exemption from income tax on retail benefits without ceilings, uniform definition of business hours, etc, in branches, besides introduction of leave bank, defined working hours for officers, and equal wage for equal work for contract employees/business correspondents.
The UFBU consists of the All India Bank Employees Association, the All India Bank Officers Confederation, the National Confederation of Bank Employees, the All India Bank Officers Association, the Bank Employees Federation of India, the Indian National Bank Employees Federation, the Indian National Bank Officers Confederation, the National Organization of Bank Workers, and the National Organization of Bank Officers.