Bank work will come to a stop on Friday when over a million employees of public sector banks, including 17,000 bank officers, embark on yet another strike to press their demands. The employees are opposed to the merger of banks that they believe would lead to the shutting down of branches. At the moment, there is one branch for every 16,000 people; the bankmen’s unions say that ratio should be 1: 8,000 in a country where half the population is outside the banking net.
The striking bankmen are also demanding the lifting of the freeze on recruitment of new workers in the banking sector. The unions believe that the banks would need over 500,000 new recruits in the next three years. But the government is apparently talking of retiring 300,000 employees. The public sector bank unions say private banks and foreign banks are also expected to down their shutters in solidarity with their demands.
Questions: Are bank men (and women) right in striking work so regularly and inconveniencing customers? Or is biting the hand that feeds the only way of bringing their demands to the notice of the powers that be? Is there no other way in which public sector employees can drive their point home instead of conveniently striking work on the eve of a Republic Day holiday, effectively turning it into a two-day holiday? Are the public sector banks still caught in the socialist mindset in opposing merger of banks which is the only way to take on the private sector giants?