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IBA agrees to meet bank unions on Monday to avert strike

Mumbai: The Indian Banks Association has decided to hold further talks with leaders of public sector bank unions who have given a call for four-day nation-wide strike from February 25.

"The IBA has invited us for talks on Monday in Mumbai and we have agreed to participate in the talks," United Forum of Bank Unions (Maharashtra) and All-India Bank Employees Union vice-president Vishwas Utagi said.

The unions have threatened the strike to press wage-hike demand. This will be their fifth strike this fiscal.
IBA has offered a 13 percent hike which will put a burden of Rs 4,095 crore on the banks, against the unions' demand of 19.5 percent hike which would increase the salary bill by Rs 10,000 crore per annum.

The twenty-eight public sector banks in the country have a combined employee strength of about eight lakh.

Most state-run banks have been reporting huge losses or steep decline in net profit amid rising bad loans and record low credit growth.

The unions are also demanding a five-day week as in other public sector undertakings and regulated banking hours against the present system of not having defined working hours for officers.

However, an IBA official said that five-day week was not acceptable to the government, and regulated hours were not feasible either as the daily work has to be completed anyway.

UFBU also wants that about three lakh vacancies in the sector be filled up, but it is opposed to contract hiring or outsourcing.

"We hope that the government would intervene and help in arriving at amicable understanding. If no tangible outcome comes from Monday's talks, UFBU would be constrained to go ahead with the strike," Utagi said, alleging that the IBA and the government were creating roadblocks in talks.

The wage revision of PSB employees is due since November 2012. Earlier, unions had deferred one-day strike of January 7 as IBA improved the wage-hike offer to 12.5 per cent from 11 percent. They also postponed a four-day strike from January 21. In December the unions had struck work for four days on rotation from December 2. 

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