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Following dictates of 'politicised' TUs? Going on strike, bank staff victims of herd mindset

By NS Venkataraman* 

Bank unions announced strike on March 15-16 to protest against some policy issues. Their demands relate to the government decision to merge and privatize banks. It is not the first time that strikes have been organized on these issues.
The bank strikes have become repeated incidents and a matter of routine, that the view has gone strong among middle classes that the bank employees would only conduct themselves in such manner, mixing work with strike as and when they desire.
Some even sarcastically say that when bank employees become tired of working, they go on strike for a change. The government and bank managements too seem to have reconciled themselves to a such pattern of the bank employees.
Strikes by bank employees appear to have become a necessary culture of operations in the banks. However, no one even seems to calculate the loss happening to the country’s exchequer and sufferings of the clients and industries due to such strike. Possibly, people are counting the holidays along with the strike days.
It is widely recognized that bank employees are a relatively more affluent section of society, especially compared to the middle income and lower income groups. By applying pressure on the government and management and not hesitating to use coercive techniques, bank employees have been able to rise their salaries, perks and other benefits from time to time.
What is particularly shocking is that the trade unions which say that they stand for the cause of the deprived section of society and to prevent exploitation of working class, are instrumental in launching such strikes.
Karl Marx, the original innovator of the trade union concept, would be turning in his grave to see such trade union trends these days, where trade unions have totally become politicized, with preconceived and prejudiced views.
The demands raised by bank employees are related to policy decisions of the government such as merger of banks, privatization of banks etc. These are essentially administrative issues introduced by the government. The view has gone strong that these moves have no bearing on the work conditions in the banks and that politicized trade unions are using bank employees to settle their political scores.
At least section of bank employees at various level appear to be unhappy about the frequent strike calls and disruptive tactics of the unions but they are so scared due to the vice like grip of the political leadership of the trade unions and, therefore, remain silent.
With what looks like a herd mentality, bank employees simply follow the dictates of the union leaders and in such situation, inevitably the strike called by bank unions becomes complete and total.
Today, the real conflict in this country is between the organized and the unorganized class. The organized class like bank employees enjoying guaranteed employment and comfortable pay packet seem to be taking the consumers for granted.
There is also the view that such strikes and disruptive tactics of the organized class are causing economic loss to the country and putting the general public to sufferings, which inevitably result in affecting the national income and the ability of the country to ensure better conditions for unorganized class.
One wonders if the grievance and protest of the unorganized class ever would be brought to light.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, Chennai

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