Bank, Insurance employees participate in 48-hour Nation-Wide General Strike

Hyderabad, Jan 8: Bank and Insurance sector employees participated in the 48-hour nation-wide strike on Tuesday at the call of all Central Trade Unions. 
All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary Ch Venkatachalam told UNI that even though officers in Banks did not join the strike, they have extended fraternal support. 

Hence though branches were kept open, normal banking services like cash transactions, clearance of cheques, remittances, bills discounting, Government treasury operations, foreign exchange transactions, negotiation of import and export bills were affected. 
Bank employees held demonstrations and rallies across the country along with insurance employees.

The strike was called by Indian National Trade Union Congress- INTUC, All India Trade Union Congress – AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha –HMS, Centre of Indian Trade Unions- CITU, All India United Trade Union Centre- AIUTUC, Trade Union Coordination Centre – TUCC, Self Employed Women’s Association – SEWA, All India Central Council of Trade Union -AICCTU. Labour Progressive Front – LPF and United Trade Union Centre -UTUC. 
The Strike call in Banking, Insurance and Financial Sector was given by All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA), General Insurance Employees All India Association (GIEAIA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), 

All India LIC Employees Federation (AILICEF), National Federation of RRB Employees(NFRRBE), All India Gramin Bank Employees Association (AIGBEA), All India Gramin Bank Employees Congress(AIGBEC), National Confederation of RRB Employees (NCRRBE), National Federation of RRB Officers (NFRRBO), All India Gramin Bank Officers Association (AIGBOA), All India Gramin Bank Officers Congress(AIGBOC), All India Reserve Bank Employees Association (AIRBEA). 

All India Reserve Bank Workers Federation (AIRBWF) and All India NABARD Employees Association Mr Venkatachalam said the Strike is being observed in sectors like Postal, Telecommunication, Defence, Oil, Coal, Steel, Power, Electricity, Road Transport, Port and Dock, Education and added that School/College teachers , State Government employees, Central Government employees, employees in Public Sector Undertakings, Private sector factories, Agriculture workers, Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and Unorganised sector workers also participating in the strike.

He said the strike was called to demand the Union government to take effective measures to control prices of essential commodities, do not weaken public distribution system, ban speculative trade in commodity market, Take effective measures to create more jobs for youth and reduce unemployment through stepped up recruitments in all sectors and industries.

Strict enforcement of labour laws, tough action on employers for violation of labour laws, Social security cover for all workers and employees, Minimum Wage of not less than Rs 18,000, Assured Pension for all workers and employees, Switch over from NPS to assured pension, Same Wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work, Stop of disinvestment in Central and State PSUs/Undertakings, Remove all ceilings on payment and eligibility of Bonus, Provident Fund Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and immediate ratification of the ILO Convention Nos. 87 and 98, Stopping the proposed adverse amendments to Labour Laws and Stop indiscriminate FDI in Defence, Insurance, Railways and other core sectors were the other demands. 

In addition, the demands relating to banking sector were Strengthening of Public Sector Banks, Stop retrograde banking sector reforms, Stop privatisation of Banks, Do not merge public sector Banks, Recover huge corporate bad loans, Stop outsourcing regular banking jobs and adequate recruitments in all the Banks.

The AIBEA General Secretary said the Central Government wants to privatise public sector Banks. Our Banks today have Rs 118 lakh crore of deposits that is people’s money. This cannot be allowed to be handed over the private hands. Further private banks was not given loans to priority sector like agriculture etc. and country will not be benefited. 

He said the Centre also wants to merger our public sector banks. Already merged 6 Banks with State Bank of India in April, 2017. Now they want to merge Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank to merge as one Bank from April, 2018. By SBI merger, 6950 branches have been closed in one year. So Bank merger means large scale branch closures. If bank branches are closed, public will get lesser banking services. Employees may lose their jobs. New employees will not be appointed. So merger of banks are unwarranted, the top union leader said.

The only major problem in the Banks is the huge bad loans. It is more than Rs 13 lakh crores. We want the list of these defaulters should be published. We want tough action on these defaulters. Deliberate and willful defaulters like Kingfisher Vijay Mallya should be proceeded under criminal law instead of civil law. Instead the Government is giving them concession. Hence 19 out of 21 public sector banks are in loss. To adjust these losses, Banks are now collecting penalty charge, more service charges, etc. We strongly oppose the same.

Mr Venkatachalam said today there are more than 2 lakh permanent vacancies. Instead of filling up these vacancies, Government wants to outsource these jobs on contract basis. We are opposing the same. We demand adequate recruitment of permanent employees in the Banks. We want jobs for the unemployed youth, he said.

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