After a two-day bank strike on 31 January and 1 February, lakhs of employees of several PSU banks have threatened to sit on another bank strike next week. If the shutdown is successful, several banks and even ATMs could be closed for five consecutive days in the second week of March.
According to the Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) and the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), a 3-day all-India bank strike will be observed from March 11 to 13 after wage revision talks with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) failed. As the strike is timed ahead of the second Saturday of the month, when banks observe the holiday, work could be affected for five consecutive days including Sunday.
Private banks like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will, however, not be affected due to the strike. This would be the third bank strike so far this year as banking services were also affected on January 8 during Bharat Bandh when unions sat on protest against the Narendra Modi government’s policies. From April 1 this year, the unions have again called for an indefinite all-India bank strike if their demands are not met.
Employees of PSU banks have their wages revised once every five years after several rounds of negotiations between union leaders and management representatives of banks. Last revised in 2012, wage revision is due from November 2017 as all negotiations held since then have failed.
Unions want wage revision settlement at 20% hike on payslip components with adequate loading thereof while IBA said it is ready for up to 19% hike including performance-linked incentives. Bank unions are also against working on alternate Saturdays. The IBA has rejected the proposal of a 5-day work week saying that as India already has one of the highest numbers of public holidays than other countries, shutting down banks on all Saturdays and Sundays would inconvenience the public.
Other demands include the merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of New Pension Scheme, improvement in family pension, etc.