Workers of all public sector banks, led by the United Forum of Bank Unions went on a one-day strike on 12th November 2014, in support of their demands for an early agreement of wage revision.
There are 27 public sector banks in the country, with a total of 50 branches, across all the banks. Close to eight lakh workers of rural and the old private banks participated in the strike and brought work to a standstill.
Workers of private banks such as ICICI, Kotak Mahindra and HDFC also participated in the strike. At a meeting held on 10th November, two days prior to the strike, bank unions had indicated their willingness to be flexible about their demand for a 23 % revision of wages. Despite this, the Indian Banks Association and the government remained adamant on their offer of a mere 11% increase.
It is a fact that an agreement on wage revision has been pending since the last two years. The last agreement expired in October 2012. Unions of bank workers and officers have been continuously putting forward their demands for discussion with the Indian Banks Association (IBA). The IBA and the government have not accepted any of the demands - fixed hours of work, nationalization of private banks, making temporary workers permanent, appointments to fill vacancies, making contract workers eligible for PF, health insurance and other benefits - that have been raised by the bank workers, alongside their demand for wage revision.
The bank workers had gone on a two-day strike earlier in the year in February when their talks with the previous government had fallen through.
All India Bank Employees Union (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) and other participated in the strike.
Bank workers gathered in one location in all the state capitals and organized strikes, demonstrations and meetings. Women workers fully participated in the strike. Thousands of bank workers gathered in a meeting at the head office on State Bank of India on Parliament Street.
Addressing the meeting, union leaders pointed out that whether it was the UPA or the NDA, both governments act against the interests of the workers and in the interests of the capitalist class. They strongly condemned the anti-workers policy of the central government. They said that the bourgeoisie brought the BJP to power to ensure “aache din” (good times) for itself. The wealth of the capitalists has increased substantially in these last five months. Good times are not for the country’s working people but for the country’s capitalists.
The leaders warned that if their demands are ignored, then the bank workers will bring the sector to a stop indefinitely. They said that according to schedule, the next state level strike would be on 3rd December.