From banking to bunking

The most disturbing aspect about bankers is the sinister timing of their agitations. A close study of the ‘strike-holiday-weekend’ trend will prove this point. Normally, it used to be Pongal time. But, this year, the bankers have chosen Christmas, not of course precluding the Pongal possibility.

So, from 21 Dec Friday, the strike merges with the fourth Saturday holiday and Sunday. 24 Dec remains a mystery, 25 Dec is Christmas and 26 Wednesday is again strike day. And possibly the worst day because even the private sector bankers are expected to ‘lend solidarity’.

These bank strikes are typically accompanied by two, er, striking claims. First is national interest. ‘Merger of certain banks is dangerous’, goes the current protest refrain. At a steep cost of several thousand crores to the economy and an unquantifiable agony to people, quoting national interest is queer. National interest is not only notional, it is also a poor camouflage for what is essentially self-interest — pay hike.

The second and most appalling claim that strikes us customers like a lightning bolt is ‘success’. So, the measure of success of the strike is directly related to the loss and hardship to the nation and its people. Indeed, it takes a perverted mind to derive pleasure from putting dependent persons and businesses in trouble and then make a celebration of the bountiful happy hours they have reaped. And success it will be, no matter even if the demands are not met. That alibi is needed because only then can they call off the current ‘indefinite’ strike and only then can they strike again, at their convenience, and much to our inconvenience.

In my view, bank strikes are a form of white collar terror unleashed on innocent victims. Today, thanks to technology customers have other means of easing their dependence on banks. But still that is of little comfort when the duration is so prolonged, a familiar tactic of the idle minds working overtime in the devil’s workshop called Unions. In a matter of two days and in a milieu of ATM-to-mouth, ‘cheque to clearing’ existence, a cash less chaos, particularly during festival time, at month end and year end is imminent.

Indeed, a bank strike can also be termed as human rights violation as it denies access to our own money and derails our living. What the Constitution guarantees and hands over to a citizen, the bankers grab and hijack for their own personal urge by bunking their ordained duty of banking for the people.

By the way, why are these bankers perennially piqued? Let us pick some ‘anomalies’ (their favourite jargon, actually) and prick the bubbles. Pay hike? Even by current standards, PSU staff, children of a profligate God, are among the best paid, wholly unjustified if performance were to be a yardstick. We need to say no more on this as every customer’s silent testimony is eloquent.

Pay parity! With whom? An obnoxious pay commission for Central government staff would arrive out of the blue and that would be enough for bankers to scratch the familiar itch to strike. The comparison is always with the highest paid employee in some godforsaken department somewhere remote in the government, and not worth, merit or nature of work.

Job security. None in this country is more secure, not just for the next meal but lifelong and even after, for family, as PSU bankers and their cousins in government. There are lakhs and lakhs of ordinary citizens who would happily and without a demur be willing to change places with such a ‘suffering’ banker. By the way, if they are not happy with the pay and security they can just quit. Simple. Indeed, when it comes to insecurity, it is we customers who should feel jittery about these strike-happy bankers, who constitute a minuscule percentage of the populace, but wield grossly disproportionate damage potential. So much for ‘essential service’.

And last, the Unions who, like onions, bring tears from our eyes when cut up. These pass under different names but come under a single umbrella of selfishness and sadism. Why does a well-paid, secure, organised, entrenched and pampered-for-life lot needs a Union in the first place when there are so many unorganised, struggling proletariat crying to be rallied for relief. Aah! The bank staff offer a captive membership to the captains of Unions whose own survival depends not on work but working on the greed and perversions of the human mind. The bluff of collective bargaining, a euphemism for blackmailing that the Unions claim with the government, has been called long back by the courts but still these Pied Pipers survive and thrive because the habits of shirking and striking work has been irrevocably implanted in the DNA of these bank employees.

The bankers, true to their nature, will expect to be paid for the strike days too. But we, the victims, can’t seek any remedy for our pain. On the contrary we can surely bank on them to bunk once again!

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Jawahar T R