Coronavirus outbreak: Bankers question why they must go to work every day

Updated: 27 March, 2020 07:49 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Amid lack of transport facilities and low volume of customers at bank branches, they seek an answer, as most banking services are also available on digital media

An employee wearing a mask enters a bank in Mumbai Central on Thursday. Pic/ Ashish Raje
An employee wearing a mask enters a bank in Mumbai Central on Thursday. Pic/ Ashish Raje

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement stating all public and private sector banks in India will remain open during the 21-day lockdown, has left bank employees and staff, esepcially from the public sector, displeased. Almost all bank branches are being kept open for few hours a day, and have also urged their customers to digitally handle their transactions. Employees ask whether it is necessary to come to work every day, at a time when no public transport is available due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rajesh Matkari, 53, an employee of a public sector bank for the past 31 years, said, "At a time the government is insisting that people stay at home, why are bankers being told to come to work? We could have a two-day week, and have minimum staff come in. Customers are not being deprived of anything, they can avail almost all the same services digitally."

Deepak Bhosale, 55, employee of a public sector bank for 36 years, said that staff has been asked to work five days a week from 10 am to 2 pm. He said, "As per instructions, we only had to undertake cash clearing…but this can be done even if there is sufficient balance in ATMs. The management is not taking any decision regarding special leave or any other incentive. We are ready to work, but at least show some concern for us."

Vilas Ghugare, who works with a public sector bank located at Fort, said that employees had communicated their concerns to seniors, but there is no decision yet. "If they (management and government) cannot give us special leave for 21 days then at least give it in parts. My office is close to my home, I have been going daily, but from today I am at home because I feel we should avoid stepping out at this time. There are barely any transactions or business as there are barely any customers."

Smooth sailing at pvt banks

Things seem to be running smoother at private banks. Anand Natarajan, COO, DBS Bank (a private sector bank) said, "We have been conducting our customer calling services from home, and have been providing employees with a pick-up and drop service as well. We are also booking hotel rooms near branches for employees, and have given laptops to them to monitor transactions from home."

With regards to the need for employees to be physically present, he said even though customer footfall had dropped at branches, some employees are needed as per government regulations. "If there were 10 customers coming in earlier, today that number is around four. All of them with urgent transactions. In the next few days, we are also going to have corporate transactions, as it is the end of the month."

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First Published: 27 March, 2020 07:11 IST

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