Suffering from a heart condition that needs regular medication, Satish Parnami, branch manager, OBC Bank, was on the verge of losing consciousness last week, after frustrated customers started shouting slogans outside the branch.
Parnami, who calls himself a peace loving person, says he has never encountered such anger and aggression in his 25-year banking career. “The protest shook not just me, but had a very negative impact on the morale of the entire staff. We are a seven-member team out which two are women and everyone has been working tirelessly since November 8,” he said.
The branch in Sector 14, Gurgaon, has 20,000 savings accounts. It has received around Rs25 crore in deposits after the demonetisation of high denomination currency notes. The branch primarily caters to government employees and it is not equipped to manage a crowd, he said.
The bank staff are disappointed that they are being held responsible for a decision over which they had no control. The situation is the same across the banking sector in Gurgaon and the endless queues are not shortening event after a month.
“Our heads and backs are aching. Our hands are hurting because of a prolonged use of computer keyboards and long hours at the desk have frozen our legs,” Jyoti Sharma, the bank cashier, said, reiterating that this was the situation of all bank employees since November 8.
She has been counting up to a crore in cash every day, an excruciating experience albeit with the help of counting machines.
However, what irks Sharma and her colleagues the most is the lack of understanding and empathy on part of customers. “We were shocked by slogans such as ‘bank manager murdabad’ and ‘bank staff murdabad’. There are endless arguments with customers who refuse to listen to our reasoning,” she said.
All staff have been working from 9 am to 8 pm for the last one month. Most of them cannot even help children with their homework. Family life has taken a hit, they said.
Sonam, another employee of the branch, could not get a leave despite her one-year-old child falling ill. “There are no leaves even if there is an emergency. The pressure from customers is too much. We agree they are in a crisis but we are also suffering in the same way,” she said. The staff shortage is a major problem at the branch and it is compounded when they are called to the head office for extra work on Sundays.
On an average, the bank has been receiving Rs50 lakh deposits daily and it was around Rs1 crore in the first few days. “Counting the cash, delivering it to people and ensuring that everything is accounted for on a daily basis is becoming very stressful,” Sharma said.
Bank staffers said unless the currency supply increased and met the demand, the situation for the customers and bankers would not improve. “The problem can’t be resolved at our level but the people are blaming us,” Paranami said.