PSU bank unions to go on strike on Aug 22-23

New Delhi: A section of public sector bank employees will go on a two-day strike on August 22-23 to protest against the proposed reforms in the banking sector and outsourcing of jobs.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has decided to go ahead with the two-day strike in support of its demand as the reconciliation talks called by Chief Labour Commission in the morning have failed.

UFBU, which is an umbrella organisation of five employee unions and four officer unions of state-run banks in the country, is against the proposed banking sector reforms and unilateral implementation of the Khandelwal committee report.

"Talks and reconciliation have failed. Government and the IBA have not given any response to our demands. All India bank strike stands for August 22 and 23," said Ashwani Rana, Secretary General, National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW), a affiliate of UFBU.

He further said, "Nine unions and vice-president of Indian Banks Association (IBA) were present in the meeting. The government and IBA are not hearing to our demands. We are compelled to go on strike."

Meanwhile, Indian Bank in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange said, "A section of the bank`s employees may take part in the proposed strike…in which case, the normal functioning of branches/offices of the bank may get affected."

The Banking Laws Amendment Bill, 2011, which is before Parliament, contains provisions such as raising of shareholders` voting rights from 10 per cent to 26 per cent in private banks and supersession of bank boards.

There are about 87,000 branches of public sector banks across the country. The state-owned lenders control about 75 per cent banking business.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Chennai, C M Baskaran, Convenor, Tamil Nadu UFBU, said, "The government is going ahead with the banking reforms and policies aimed at diluting the public sector banking in India. Banking Laws Amendment Bill is being brought in the Lok Sabha on August 22 despite our protest."

The Centre-appointed Khandelwal panel had suggested a slew of measures, including more outsourcing of non-core activities in a time-bound manner.

Also, the standard of recruitment, including methodology and content for testing, has to be raised. Testing of computer skills will be mandatory for both officers and clerks, the panel had recommended.

The Khandelwal committee on human resources (HR) had also suggested that the minimum qualification for clerks and sub-staff should be graduation and class 10, respectively.

The unions which have given the strike call include All India Bank Employees Association, All India Bank Officers Confederation, National Confederation of Bank Employees, All India Bank Officers Officers Association, Bank Employees Federation of India, India National Bank Employees Federation, Indian National Bank Officers Congress, National Organisation of Bank Workers and National Organisation of Bank Officers are part of the United Forum of Bank Unions.