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COVID surge: Bank unions request finance ministry for emergency steps to protect bankers

Amid rising COVID cases across the country, bank unions have asked the finance ministry to initiate measures such as reducing banking days and allowing branches to work with minimum staff to protect employees from coronavirus infection. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, in a representation to the Secretary Department of Financial Services Debasish Panda said some saftey measures need to be put in place as all bank branches and establishments are potential hotspots for spreading the infections.

It has also suggested some measures, including reduced working hours or days as was implemented last year.

“We call upon you to instruct all the banks to deploy minimum possible staff/officers at branches/offices. Measures like working with one-third of staff strength, Work from Home, should be implemented for next 4-6 months. Staff/officers to be called on rotation so that exposure is reduced,” UFBU said in the representation.

Hub banking model and staggered working hour can be adopted, the union said as it also pitched for vaccination of bankers on priority basis to instill confidence in their minds.

Instead of opening all branches at multi-centres, numbers may be restricted in such a manner that banking facilities can be extended at few select branches, obviating the necessity to open all and expose bankers and customers to the risk of infection, it said.

As has been implemented by central government and few state governments, compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the next of kin of deceased frontline COVID warriors should be extended to all banks, it said.

These suggestions, if implemented, would not only be a strong shield of safety to bankers and customers but will also ensure availability of required banking facilities and help sustained economic activities in the country, it added.

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