Bankers seek frontline worker sops

MUMBAI: Bankers, particularly those in the public sector, are facing the brunt of the second wave of the pandemic. Most bank jobs are customerfacing and classified as essential services. But the bankers have been denied facilities for frontline workers like vaccination and access to public transport. At the same time, they are under pressure to complete the annual exercises relating to audits, annual accounts, and transfers.
In Mumbai, where most of the banks are headquartered, the railway authorities have said that employees of central government public sector undertakings can travel by train. But bankers complain that authorities are restricting them from boarding local trains. Private bank employees, on the other hand, are not allowed to travel at all. “Most of the junior executives are not able to afford the city rentals and travel from distant suburbs. It is punishing for them to travel 30-40kms by road,” said a senior official at a private bank.

In February, the Indian Banks Association (IBA) had written to the government, seeking priority vaccination for bank employees. The letter had pointed out that 600 bank employees had died due to the pandemic and that mortality rates of bankers on account of Covid was four times higher than the general population. Another reason why public sector banks are badly hit is the low-level of adoption of digital by their customers.
Bank employees, meanwhile, want that some of the annual rituals to be delayed given the situation. Last year, Sebi had extended the time for submission of financial results for the quarter ended March 31 to July 31 because of the lockdown. Bank staff are also under pressure to follow up on collections from small businesses as delinquencies are likely, given that businesses in major cities have been shut for a large part of April.
In terms of government guidelines, banks are required to complete all their transfers promotions and postings by June 2021. Employees who are posted in their hometowns are fearful of taking up transfers to metros amid the pandemic. But at the same time, there are a set of employees who have been posted to metros and are waiting to be transferred back after completing their stint.