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Bankers' Dream of 5 Day Working Shattered



Rajesh Goyal 

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I have been receiving reports for over a week now that new Government at the Centre is mulling with the idea of reverting to six days week or at least tweaking with the current working hours enjoyed by government employees.   I have restrained about writing on the issue as I would have been dubbed as pessimistic and I was hoping that it will remain as a rumor only.    However, today (5th June, 2014) the report in ET (New Regime Plans to Increase Working Hours) clearly indicates that reports we have received earlier were not without substance.

ET report is a major blow to Dream of Bankers for 5 Day Working in Banks.   We know that 5 day working was introduced in Central Government almost 30 years back during Rajiv Gandhi regime.  At that time I had served only for five years in bank.   We kept on dreaming for next 25 years that some day 5 day banking  will be introduced in banks too.   However, no union leaders took it seriously and  I and number of my colleagues have retired.    I still remember, in earlier days we were told that India can not be compared to western countries of 5 day banking as they have lot of ATMs and thus general public is not affected by closure of banking on Saturdays.   However, it was not a convincing argument yet I thought that whenever India will have fairly good number of ATMs, we will be able to have 5 day week at least for the next generation of bankers.   This never happened though last decade have seen mushrooming of ATMs across India.

Our readers are well aware that in my several articles, I have advised our UFBU leaders to delink this issue from wage revision as it had nothing common with wage revision.   However,  UFBU has always tried to link it with wage revision so as to befool the cadres as it was an emotive issue.    Even in the last meeting of negotiations held on 14th March 2014,  instead of discussing the increase in salaries,  their main agenda was to raise this emotive issue.   UFBU circular of the date  starts to read as  “Carrying forward the discussions held in the last round of talks, some of the important issues like introduction of 5 day Banking, regulated working hours for officers etc. were discussed further.   While appreciating our viewpoints, IBA wanted further inputs from the Unions in order to examine the issues and to take up the matter with higher authorities”. 

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With a single stroke of the above ET report, now UFBU leaders will have no face to raise this issue as nobody in the IBA will even like to take this matter to higher authorities, let alone convince GoI officials to agree to such a proposal.  With much stronger government at the centre and Left parties trying to save their face, who will have the guts in IBA / UFBU to take this issue seriously in the forthcoming meetings?   Thus, the wrong strategy on the part of the UFBU has resulted in neither focusing on 5 days week nor on honourable rise in salary for the bankers.


Thus, I feel that for the time being the dream of bankers for 5 days week is shattered and UFBU needs to focus on core issue to bring bankers at par with the salaries of the central government.   If still they do not understand these basics of negotiations, then Aam Bankers may teach them a lesson in days to come by mass exodus from these old and tired unions.  The issue of 5 days working should be discussed only after completion of 10th BPS negotiations. 


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