Calcutta, Feb. 10: Banking services in Bengal were affected on the first day of a 48-hour nationwide strike, with branches of public and private sector banks as well as automated teller machines (ATMs) remaining closed.
The strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, the umbrella body of various unions, demanding higher wages for employees.
The forum had rejected the Indian Banks’ Association’s offer of a 10 per cent wage hike in a meeting on February 6 in the presence of the chief labour commissioner and had subsequently called the two-day strike.
Banking operations in close to 7,000 branches and 6,000 ATMs were affected as bank employees stayed away despite the loss of a day’s salary.
FM on wages
Finance minister P. Chidambaram today said the profits of banks cannot be used only to enhance salaries because there are other obligations.
“I will appeal to employees to recognise that banks profits, earnings have other claims. While claims of officers and staff must be acknowledged, and a fair (wage) settlement is arrived at, there are other claimants to the profit,” he said.
“It cannot be that all profits are used to declare dividend and to provide enhanced wages. A significant part of retained earnings must be used to infuse additional capital, otherwise banks will not find the amount of capital that is required over the next 5, 10, 20 years,” he said.