Close to 10 lakh bank employees across the nation ended their two-day strike on Thursday. The United Forum of Banking Unions, a collective of nine bank unions that had called the strike in protest against a 2% salary hike, claimed that it was a “total success”, PTI reported.
The bank unions’ forum has employees across 85,000 branches of 56 regional rural banks, 21 public, 13 private and seven foreign banks. The unions decided to go on strike after conciliatory talks convened by the chief labour commissioner in Delhi on Monday failed.
The unions said transactions worth Rs 43,400 crore were affected, reported Business Standard. “It is the Indian Banks’ Association which has put the banking public to trouble and not the unions,” said general secretary of All India Bank Employees’ Association CH Venkatachalam. “The unions had given a strike notice 20 days before the actual strike, but the IBA did not respond to that.”
The strike affected deposits, fixed deposit renewals, government treasury and money market operations and cheque clearances, reported PTI. “It will take another week to clear up backlog in clearing operations,” the UFBU’s convener in Maharashtra, Devidas Tuljapurkar, told Scroll.in. Close to 80 lakh cheques have not been cleared since Wednesday, he added.
Tuljapurkar said the UFBU’s core committee would meet soon to decide on ways to persuade the government to announce a bigger salary hike. “In view of the increased work load, the government should consider increasing wages.”
Operations in new-generation private banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, were unaffected, except cheque clearance, reported PTI. There were reports of ATMs running out of cash in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and a few ATM kiosks in Kolkata remaining shut on Wednesday.
During talks on May 5, the Indian Banks’ Association refused to increase wages by more than 2% for junior officers, citing the banks’ poor financial condition, ANI reported. The unions also accused the Centre of dealing with the matter casually.