Strike Paralyses Banking Operations

Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Aug 24 | Updated: Aug 25 2004, 05:51am hrs
Operations of banks, mainly in the public sector, were paralysed on Tuesday due to the one-day strike call by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) to protest against what the Unions termed as the adamant and anti-labour policy of the Indian Banks Association (IBA) in not settling the reasonable demands of wage revision. UFBU has threatened to intensify its stir further and hinted at the possibility of a two-day strike next month.

About 10 lakh employees and officers of the 27 state-owned banks and a few old private sector banks participated in the strike. The money, government securities and foreign exchange markets was thin trading as the state-owned banks did not trade.

In the high-value clearing at the National Clearing Cell, 30 out of the 112 member banks did not participate. The number of instruments cleared was 3,600 (amounting to Rs 1,400 crore) as compared to the monthly average of 12,000 (aggregating Rs 8,900 crore). The interbank clearing was severely affected as only 75 cheques aggregating Rs 33 crore were cleared as against the average daily volume of 600 cheques aggregating Rs 960 crore. In the RTGS segment, 478 transactions for Rs 8,830 crore were settled as against average daily transaction volume of 1,400 crore for Rs 11,000 crore.

The UFBU, an umbrella organisation of nine trade unions, called for the strike as the IBA is game for a wage hike of only 9.5 per cent as against their demand of a minimum of 12.25 per cent. The unions say that they had climbed down from their earlier demand of 30 per cent and will not settle for anything that is less than 12.25 per cent.

The 8th bipartite wage negotiations have dragged on for the last 21 months. Besides the quantum of wage hike, the issue of mobility of clerical staff across a state as against a district now is stalling the wage talks.

The central committee of the UFBU will meet tomorrow and decide the future course of action. There is a possibility that unions will resort to a two day strike to press their demands, said S Nagarajan, deputy general secretary, AIBOA.

Banks are making good profits. Were not asking for the moon. Anyway weve climbed down from our earlier demand for a 30 per cent wage hike. Now all we are saying is that well be happy to negotiate within the 12.25-20 per cent band, said Suresh Dhopeshwarkar, general secretary, Maharashtra State Banks Employees Federation.

UFBU convenor, Ashoke Kumar Dutta, told FE in Kolkata that all branches, local and regional offices of all commercial banks of the country remained closed on Tuesday. The UFBU supporters demonstrated in front of all bank offices throughout the country and also organised processions. Speaking to FE in Chennai, CH Venkatachalam, secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and convener, UFBU, Tamil Nadu, said the strike was total in Chennai and other districts in the state.