Banks/government have lost nearly Rs. 30,000 crore as the two-day strike by over 8 lakh employees of the public sector, and some private and foreign banks hit the common man badly, particularly in rural areas. Even the corporates/government agencies had to face the inconvenience as the stir continued on Tuesday too.
With ATMs going dry on Sunday itself in some places and as they could not be refilled due to strike, people in remote areas had to travel several kilometres in search of ATMs that had cash.
According to the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) vice-president Vishwas Utagi, about 10 crore cheques worth Rs. 7,40,000 crore could not be cleared. Government transactions, foreign exchange transactions and money market operations were also affected.
Meanwhile, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary and CPI MP Gurudas Das Gupta hit out at Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for stating that banks profits could not be used only to enhance salaries (of their employees) as they must be invested into expansions. Mr. Gupta wondered how the banks, which refuse higher wages to its employees, waived bad loans of big corporates causing severe loss to the banks. While the NPAs of big corporates were ignored or waived, the small defaulters were made to suffer with punitive action, he charged.
The strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) to protest the Indian Banks’ Association’s (IBA) refusal to its demand for increased wages as the previous wage agreement lapsed on October 31, 2012.
UFBU is not accepting the claim of IBA that banks could not afford to pay higher salaries to their employees. It pointed out that the combined profits of banks had risen by 250 per cent from Rs.19,680 crore in 2006-07 to Rs. 48,700 crore in 2012-13. It rejected a 10 per cent increase in the salary offered by IBA. Even 10 per cent hike in wages would cost about Rs.3,000 crore to the IBA.