Bank employees shout slogans as they hold a demonstration as part of their two-day nationwide strike to press for wage revision, in Bengaluru. (Source: PTI)

One Million Indian Bank Employees Go on Strike in Pay Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- About 1 million Indian bank employees are embarking on a two-day nationwide strike starting Wednesday after unions expressed dismay at the 2 percent salary increase workers were offered.

Disgruntled employees add to the challenges facing bank executives, who are under pressure to come to grips with the highest bad-loan ratios among major economies. Loan writedowns have pressured earnings and capital ratios, limiting banks’ scope for offering generous pay increases in a nation where inflation reached 4.6 percent in April.

“This is ridiculous, it is the lowest salary hike offered to us ever,” said C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of the All India Bank Employees’ Association, which represents about 975,000 workers and is organizing the strike. “All bankers in this country cannot be penalized for the bad lending decisions taken by some of the top management.”

The Indian Banks Association, which represents lenders, has turned a deaf ear to demands for bigger pay increases, Venkatachalam said. Salary raises for bank workers are negotiated every five years. The strike will affect all state-owned lenders and a few private banks.

V G Kannan, chief executive officer of the banks’ association, didn’t immediately return calls to his office.

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