Untimely Strike

While employees of the State Bank of Indian (SBI) continue fighting for their rights, the general public, in particular the pensioners and salaried class people are at the receiving end for no fault of theirs. The impact is felt more because with the beginning of a new month, the cash flow if it is stopped will have an adverse affect on a majority of bread earners. The largest bank of the country has a significant share of account holders who are senior citizens or government/private sector employees. On the business side as well, the bank will be incurring huge losses amounting to crores of Rupees daily. 

With customers across the country getting restive the SBI should realize that the strike would adversely affect the bank’s reputation. While no one is against the demands put forth by the SBI employees, it is the manner and also the timing of the protest that is objectionable to say the least. For one, even if they had to resort to a shutdown, the employees unions could have done so after clearing the salary payments. That way at least the burden on customers could have been lessened to some degree. But that they have gone ahead with the strike without considering this humane aspect only show that their action is motivated more by self interest rather than public welfare. How much this will make a dent into the Banker-Customer equation remains to be seen. Already the hardship faced by the common man is beginning to tell.

While the striking employees may have been left with no other option but to resort to an indefinite strike, merely apologizing to customers for the inconvenience brought to bear on them is against the ethics of public service. The striker’s arguing that they should not be blamed for the strike, and rather passing on the buck to the Finance Minister is completely untenable. It would be better if the striking employees do not muddle their charter of demands with their own responsibility to the customers. As professionals imbibed (hopefully) with the nuance of corporate governance, the SBI employees should find ways to continue performing their duty while at the same time taking up with the management and government of India the list of demands through appropriate negotiations or even resorting to non-violent protest but short of stalling the countrywide banking system. 

The Government of India on its part should leave no stone unturned to consider the demands put forth in a way that is fair, just and equitable. That the family pension has not been revised since the last 20 years is unfortunate and needs rectification. The Finance Minister should also actively intervene to personally resolve the issue and remain sympathetic to the demands made. The SBI employees on their part should seriously consider returning to work in order to create a more favourable environment to reach an amicable settlement.