The striking bank employees and officers are seeking a small percentage of gross profit and not the entire profit, said All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) general secretary, C.H. Venkatachalam.

Spearheading a procession in front of Syndicate Bank’s Anna Salai branch on Tuesday, he said even if the management was agreeing to give 10 per cent, then it would work out to Rs.12,000 crore, whereas the banks have earned a gross profit of Rs.1,21,917 crore for 2012-13. Till date the management has offered to pay Rs. 3,150 crore, which is a meagre 2.6 per cent and it is a ‘pittance’.

Taking a strong exception to the Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s statement that all profits cannot be used to pay for higher wages, he said, “Banks are making profits after meeting its expenditure. The balance left over is Rs.1.22 lakh crore. About one-third of it (Rs. 43,102 crore) is used for writing off bad debts for 2012-13. Why are they grudging to pay just a small portion to the employees?”

Mr. Chidambaram has said that a significant portion of profits were needed to meet the bank’s future working capital needs. If serious efforts are made, one can easily recover bad debts of Rs. 50,000 crore and the same could be ploughed back, he pointed out.

On the veiled threat issued by the management that they would initiate disciplinary action and deduct salaries of striking employees, he said “strike is a collective action that is permissible under industrial action. Due notice has been given to the management. If someone is issuing threat then they are not aware of basic legal laws in the country,” he said.

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