Bengaluru: Banking transactions across Karnataka were crippled Tuesday as about 35,000 employees of all banks across the state went on a day-long relay strike to press for their many demands, including wage revision.
“The relay strike was a total success, as all officers and employees of state-run, private and regional rural banks kept away from work in protest against the adamant attitude of the Indian Banks Association (IBA) in considering our legitimate demands,” All India Bank Officers’ Federation (AIBOF) president Y. Sudarshan told IANS here.
The relay strike, which will continue over the next three days zone-wise across the country, was also observed in other southern states.
It will be observed across the north zone Wednesday, in the east and northeastern regions Thursday, and in the western region Friday.
“As efforts to avert the relay strike Monday between the IBA and the United Forum of Bank Unions (UBFU) failed despite the mediation of the deputy labour commissioner (central) in Mumbai, we had no option but to go ahead with the strike zone-wise for four days to draw the government’s attention to prevail upon IBA to meet our genuine demands,” Sudarshan said.
Though people with debit and credit cards were able to draw cash from the automated teller machines (ATMs), all other transactions were affected.
“Our five-year wage revision is due since Nov 1, 2012. We have asked for 25 percent hike in wages keeping in view the high cost of living and inflation since then. The IBA, however, is refusing to give more than 11 percent hike, which is far less than 17.5 percent hike given Oct 31, 2007, for five years,” he said.
Asserting that their major demands were legitimate, as the responsibility, accountability and risk of all employees, especially officers, has gone up substantially, Sudarshan said the unions had agreed to accept 23 percent wage revision after the IBA conveyed that the banks were not in a position to offer beyond 11 percent due to rising non-performing assets (NPAs).
“It is not our fault if NPAs of all banks have gone up. The IBA cannot blame us, as NPAs have increased due to default by hundreds of large corporates in repaying their loans or advances. Our demands are in conformity with the settlement the IBA had with our forum (UBFU) in 2010,” he said.
The other major demands of the unions are upgradation of pension benefits, especially family pension, as retired employees do not get the benefit of wage revision, regulate working hours for officers and declare five-day banking, which is applicable to employees of the Reserve Bank of India, central government and industries in the organised sector.
Over 1.5 lakh employees of all banks across Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana also struck work, seeking early settlement of their demands.
The UBFU decided to launch the four-day relay strike across the country for the first time at a meeting in Bengaluru in October.
The UFBU represents nine unions of over a million officers and employees in state-run, private and regional rural banks across the country.
“The IBA is determined to cause inconvenience to the public and fill its coffers by deducting salary of our striking employees who are the lowest paid section. IBA’s indifference to our demands is apparent, as the strike notice was given 40 days ago and a nationwide strike was held Nov 11,” All India Bank Employees Confederation (AIBEC) general secretary A.K. Krishna Murthy told IANS here.