Discontent brews afresh in banks, strikes in May-end

Mumbai, May 19 : Bank employees are again on the warpath with several major unions of different banks threatening to go on a one or two-day strike in May-end, activists said here on Thursday.

For starters, Central Bank of India staffers shall strike work on May 30-31 to protest against large-scale shutting down of branches, bypassing employees in crucial decision-making processes, large-scale transfers, etc.

Similarly, the Bank of Baroda and Punjab & Sindh Bank employees will keep off work on May 30 while staffers of the Catholic Syrian Bank, the Bank of India, the Bank of Maharashtra, the Federal Bank, and the UCO Bank are already agitating in different ways since the past few months.

Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation (MSBEF) General Secretary Devidas Tuljapurkar said that there is tremendous distress in the entire banking industry with some or the other forms of agitation affecting almost each bank.

“Since the past 5-6 years, banks have started outsourcing many works to outside private parties, all recruitments have stopped and the bipartite settlement has not been implemented in some banks,” he said.

In some like the Federal Bank, the employees are agitating against the management’s attempts to suppress the voice of dissent of the union representatives and even attacking them, MSBEF President Nandkumar Chavan said.

The UCO Bank unions have recently decided at their meeting in Nagpur to launch an all-out agitation on the issue of recruitment which is among the most serious problems in the banking industry, he added.

According to Tuljapurkar, presently there are around 900,000 bank employees all over India in all banks but an equal number are working with private companies to where various bank tasks have been outsourced.

“Plus, the Central government has implemented all their social sector schemes through banks which has resulted in a huge increase in the workload. There has been large-scale retirement of employees in banks but with no new recruitments, it has led to massive pressures and stress on the existing frontline employees, culminating in the unrest,” he contended.

Both Chavan and Tuljapurkar urged the government and the banking industry to take the initiative and address the genuine concerns of the employees and unions to enable normalise industrial relations as the banks are just emerging out of their NPA problems and the Covid-19 crisis in the past couple of years.