A three day proposed strike by the members of an umbrella organisation of banking officers and employee unions, scheduled to take place from March 11 to 13, has been deferred. This was announced through a statement given by the umbrella union group United Forum of Bank Unions, who represent 9 banking unions in India. If the threat to go on strike would have gone through, it could have caused a 6-day disruption in banking services.
Starting from Holi on Tuesday, March 10, the disruption was scheduled to go through till Sunday, March 15. For some parts of northern India, where Holi and a day before the festival is usually considered to be a banking non-working day, the timing of the strike was expected to interrupt services for eight days starting March 8.
BOOM spoke to Vishwas Uttagi, a union bearer of the All India Bank's Officer's Association, who said, "There are 9 banking unions - 4 officer's unions and 5 employee unions - under the umbrella UFBF, which had called for the strike for three days from March 11 - 13. This strike has been deferred after meeting the IBA."
On further negotiations, Uttagi added, "The IBA will form a three member committee to consider unions' demands, which was decided at the February 29 meeting. The negotiations also had discussions regrading pension increments with unions, consisting of retired banking employees, who were met after the IBA discussions."
The 9 banking unions were negotiating with the Indian Banking Association to decide the quantum of pay-hike for its members. The deferment of the strike will come as a huge relief for banking customers as it would have been the third disruption of banking services this year. The first took place on January 8, when public-sector unions participated in a Bharat Bandh. The second took place over January 31 and February 1 this year over the same pay issue.
Over the last one week, several messages highlighting disruption of services had gone viral. BOOM received one such message over its WhatsApp helpline (7700906111), highlighting the disruption timeline, bearing the logo of the Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA). But when BOOM contacted the association, they denied putting out any such messages.
Bank unions had asked for a 20% pay hike on the payslip component, which prior negotiations with the IBA were unable to address. Also among unions' demands was a 5-day work week. In the latest talks between the IBA and the UFBF, which occurred on February 29, the IBA increased their offer to a 15% hike, up from the 12.5% offer they were giving earlier. "Our demand on 5-Day Banking will be taken forward by further discussions", the statement added.