Bank unions seek staff safety, want Maharashtra CM to intervene

The unions wish the state government to intervene and protect bank staff from the risk of contracting COVID-19.

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Alarmed by the rise in the number of COVID cases amongst bank employees in Maharashtra, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) wrote a letter to Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, about the lack of proper sanitation and violation of  social distancing norms in banks, which is putting the lives of many employees at risk.

In Maharashtra alone, 15 bank employees have died and more than hundreds have been infected by the virus in the state alone, the bank unions voiced their concern over the negligence.

The letter requested Thackeray to intervene and issue directives to banks and local authorities to ensure the safety of bank employees.

The letter by UFBU — an umbrella body of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) — alleges that banks are not abiding by the regular sanitisation guidelines at their branches, or following the standard operating procedures prescribed by the Centre, state government and local administration.

With overcrowding in banks and no security guards at the entrance to manage the crowd,  basic norms are easily flouted. As a result, lack of social distancing and cleanliness are aiding the spread of the virus. The unions are seeking the Government’s intervention to control the spread.

The letter points out that banks in rural areas are currently flooded with farmers for crop loans. With no social distancing norms in place, these farmers are risking their own lives along with those of the bank employees.

Bank unions have requested the state government to advise the state administration to deploy police personnel to regulate the crowd at the branches and avoid any unexpected incidents.

The local administrations from Raigad, Alibaug, Panvel, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have asked bank officials to keep their branches open even during weekly offs and holidays.

Moreover, these banks worked on all holidays in in June and have been asked to do the same in July too.

Bank unions have requested the government to direct administrative officials from these areas to refrain from asking bank employees to report to duty on weekly offs and holidays.

With over a lakh cases, Maharashtra is the worst affected state in the country. On Saturday, the state reported 3,427 new cases and 113 deaths, including 69 in Mumbai.