Need to implement 5-day working in Banks
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has decided to go on two-day strike from January 30 demanding a five-day working week for bank staff, among others. Apart from 5 day week, the UFBU is also demanding immediate commencement of negotiations on the charter of demands for wage revision, updating of pension for retirees and resolution of residual issues like updation of pension, immediate start of negotiations on charter of demands for wage revision and adequate recruitment in all cadres, among others. As per reports, the united Forum of Bank Unions has been trying for the last 28 months to resolve the remaining issues, however, no positive response was given by the Indian Banks’ Association. The 11th wage settlement of bank employees occurred on November 11, 2020, between the Indian Banks’ Association and the United Forum of Bank Unions, the umbrella body of trade unions in the banking sector. Some of the issues related to the agreement, in which a 5-day week in banks, stagnation increment is not given to banks by the Indian Banks Association, besides promotion and salary, pension fixation issues etc. Two Saturdays (2nd and 4th) were declared off in 10th bipartite settlement, signed on the 25 May 2015. This was termed as a great achievement by bank unions, who have been asking for five-day week. Before two Saturdays off, all Saturdays were half day working, as such, technically no benefit was passed on in terms of working hours. The demand of bank employees’ is not unreasonable because Central Government and most State Government offices work only five days. A five-day week is already available in the international banking system. It is also available here – the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), central and state governments, and companies in the public sector work for (only) five days a week. The working conditions in the Banks have been strenuous. Poor infrastructure, lack of adequate staff has made the officers work till late in the night, resulting in poor health, huge pressure on the officers, which culminates in serious work-leisure mismatches, life style diseases and of late, repeated acts of suicides being committed by the officers of the Banks. With the advancement of technology, most of the transactions can be processed without physically visiting branches. Since 2015, the banks have developed various alternative delivery channels for delivery of various services and most of the services like, fund transfers, bank statements, cheque book requests, loan applications, cash withdrawal, transaction enquiry, account opening, life certificates etc. are available online without human intervention. In a letter to the Indian Banks’ Association, the All India Bank Employees’ Association has proposed that working hours per day may be increased by 30 minutes and the present working hours may be advanced by 30 minutes in the morning. It has also proposed increasing the existing customer service hours/non-cash transaction banking hours by 30 minutes. According to AIBOC, India is in the midst of digital revolution. As per experts, India is set to leapfrog many advanced countries in this space. Customers in the country are leaning towards digital adoption of financial services faster than previous estimates. There will be a paradigm shift in banking transactions from the brick and mortar banking to digital transactions concept. It is quite evident that the work pressure in the banking industry is the highest in the country and due to this branch banking should be done only during weekdays, keeping in mind the health of employees and their ability to perform. Having five days a week will lead to higher productivity and improve the efficiency of bank employees. Don’t we think, 5 days week will also be a positive step in the direction of Digital India in conformity with PM’s vision?.