The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) that is an umbrella body of nine bank unions across the country has called for a strike on January 31 and February 1, coinciding with the release of Economic Survey, and Union Budget by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
As a result, banking services of state-run lenders will likely be impacted at branches and ATMs across the country. Services such as cheque clearances, cash deposit, cash withdrawal and loan disbursements at bank branches could be affected during the strike.
However, customers will be able to carry out routine transactions through digital channels such as net banking and mobile banking. A number of public sector banks like the State Bank of India (SBI) have issued alerts to their customers.
The bank employees’ unions have been demanding a 20 percent pay hike, five-day workweek, family pension, scrapping of new pension scheme and staff welfare fund among other things.
The Indian Banking Association (IBA), the representative body of banks’ management, has been negotiating with the unions, but to no avail. In a meeting held on January 30, the IBA sweetened its offer of 13 percent to 15 percent for a wage increase that was not accepted by the unions.
According to IBA, the offer was revised to up to 19 percent including a performance-linked incentive. However, the management body said that other demands like five-day workweek were not acceptable. The country is among those with the highest number of public holidays in the world and adding 26 more holidays would add problems for customers.
“For the inconvenience of the customers, banks will keep alternative channels available and customers can utilise these alternate/digital channels of banking 24x7 for day-to-day banking,” the IBA said in a note.
If the demands were not met, the unions will go for a three-day strike from March 11 to 13 and an indefinite strike from April 1.