Bank strike hits services in J&K, many ATMs shut

Bank employees protesting in Jammu (L) and locked gate of Dena Bank at Srinagar (R). -Excelsior/Rakesh/UNI
Bank employees protesting in Jammu (L) and locked gate of Dena Bank at Srinagar (R). -Excelsior/Rakesh/UNI

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Jan 31: Baking services were severely affected even as customers are facing inconvenience across Jammu and Kashmir, the first day of the two-day nationwide strike called by the Bank employees unions to press for wage revision.
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, decided to call for a two-day strike on today and tomorrow after no breakthrough was made with the Indian Banks Association over wage revision.

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Branches of all the centralised banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), PNB etc in Jammu, Srinagar and all other towns, Tehsils and Blocks across J&K were closed since early morning, causing inconvenience to the customers, who were caught unaware of the strike.
Bank unions are demanding 20 % hike in pay on pay slip components with adequate loading thereof while the management is not willing to go beyond 12.25 %. Other demands include 5-day work week, merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of new pension scheme, scrapping of New Pension Scheme, allocation of Staff Welfare Fund based of operating profits, improvement in family pension, introduction of Leave Bank, defined working hours for Bank officers, equal wage for equal work for contract employees/ business correspondents and exemption from Income Tax on retiral benefits with ceiling.
Meanwhile, the Forum has issued strike calendar which includes a three-day bank strike from March 11 and another indefinite All India banking strike from April 1, if the wage settlement issues remains unaddressed.
In Jammu, a large number of SBI employees assembled outside their main office near Bahu Plaza and held strong protest demonstration. Similar, protests were held at various other bank offices in the winter capital city. The employees shouted slogans in support of their demands. Several Union leaders also addressed the gatherings.
In Srinagar also SBI, PNB and other employees held protests outsidetheir respective bank offices. While many customers alleged that they had no prior information about strike, a few SBI employees claimed that the customers were informed about the strike.
” It is really ironic that we had no idea about the strike. We should have been informed about it so that we could have made prior arrangements. I have to send money to my son who is studying in an engineering college in Bangalore. But due to the strike, I can only send him the money on Monday, which is three days from today,” Manzoor Ahmad, a bank customer said.
Manzoor said that with only low speed mobile internet service operational in the Valley, sending money is possible only at a bank branch. ”People who came to the branch had no idea about the strike,” he alleged.
Similar, views were expressed by other customers in the valley.
Meanwhile, customers alleged that some ATMs have already dried up as the cash was not refilled on today due to the strike in Kashmir.


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