Banking services across India are likely to be affected on January 25 as the umbrella body of all bank unions has called a day-long nation-wide strike, a senior union official said on Tuesday.
The unions, representing about 900,000 employees, also plan to go on a two-day strike from Feb 25 if their demands were not met and on an indefinite strike from March-end, convenor of United Forum of Bank Unions, C.H. Venkatachalam, said.
The strike would affect all state-run, private sector and Indian operations of foreign banks, but co-operative and regional rural banks are exempted, he said.
The Chief Labour Commissioner has called a tripartite meeting with the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) and unions on Wednesday in New Delhi to try and resolve the matter.
The unions are opposed to mergers among public sector banks including associate banks, outsourcing and contractual employment, besides other issues.
They have also sought one more opportunity to opt for pension schemes for those who did not opt earlier, besides compassionate recruitment, he said.
"The issues have been lingering for months and years," Venkatachalam told Reuters from the southern city of Chennai.
An IBA official said it was not in a position to address all their demands except that on wage revision, to which the unions have demanded an early settlement.
"We are in the process," said IBA's senior vice-president and chief advisor (personnel), G. Sankaranarayanan, adding the proposal was received recently and mandates were being sought from member banks.
On the issue of compassionate appointment, whereby the next-of-kin of deceased staff were employed directly, he said it was no longer feasible on a one-to-one basis but could be considered only on the basis of need of the respective bank.
Financial costs would also make it difficult to open up the pension scheme in its present form to those employees who did not opt for it earlier, he added.