By Deepshikha Agarwal
India won its independence through a great Revolution which mostly consisted of large scale protests and strikes. Ever since, protests and strikes seem to be a way out of everything for Indians. If we want something and don’t get it, the simple solution is to protest, even if it means hampering the normal functions of day-to-day life.
The latest strike is being is being organised by the banks. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has called for a 48-hour all India bank strike on February 10 and 11, as the conciliation talks with the banks’ management regarding raise in wages remained inconclusive. The strike has been called by the UFBU for an early settlement of the wage revision of bank employees, which is due since November 2012, and to oppose reforms in the banking sector that will pave way for greater privatisation. According to the Unions, the entry of foreign banks will make the sector unviable thereby paving way for takeovers.
The strike had been initiated on the 18th of December, 2013 which included around 100,000 bank employees and officers of 27 public sector banks including State Bank of India (SBI), 12 private sector and eight foreign banks. According to UFBU, the last wage settlement in the banking sector expired in October 2012. However, the discussions on a revised settlement since the past one year have been inconclusive.
Although the reasons for the strike are justified, it has caused inconveniences without doubt. The common people, once again, are the ones who are suffering. Normal banking operations like cheque clearances, withdrawing and depositing of money at branches were hit across the country. So, for instance, if a citizen is in immediate need of money, if he wishes to withdraw his money from the bank for an emergency he is denied of this right because the banks are fighting for their own rights! Unfair for the citizen who had deposited his money into the banks expecting quality services in return, which these banks claim to render when they are attracting customers. Certainly a failure to keep the customers happy!
Business transactions worth Rs. 400 crores through 250 branches of 14 nationalised banks and also the services at few branches of major public sector banks across the district were affected when the strike initially began in December. ATM services were not affected but the bullion market was disturbed. Such hindrances in business transactions are added headaches for businessmen which they definitely don’t welcome!
That strikes are the only way to get the central government’s attention for any organisation/ group of individuals is a little troubling, given the extent of disruption they cause. The need of the hour is perhaps to come up with a better alternative to convey our message to the authorities which at least won’t harm the citizens of the nations/abroad.