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Demonetisation Rush at Banks has Cashiers 'Weeping', Say Bank Unions

Debayan Roy | News18.com

First published: November 22, 2016, 5:25 PM IST | Updated: November 22, 2016
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Demonetisation Rush at Banks has Cashiers 'Weeping', Say Bank Unions
People exchange their old Rs 500 and 1000 notes at a bank in New Delhi. (Photo Credit: PTI)

New Delhi: The massive rush at bank branches to exchange scrapped currency notes post the demonetisation drive has cashiers “weeping” as they end up paying from their own pockets for mistakes committed out of “high level of stress,” bank employee association leaders told News18.

“Where there were around 50 to 60 transactions a day, these days there are over thousands of transactions. Cashiers can hardly concentrate in such an atmosphere. Not only are they losing out on personal cash but they also end up accepting duplicate notes,” said JP Sharma, vice president of All India Bank Employee Association.

Every employee in a bank these days is a cashier, Sharma said, pointing out that the role of a cashier is one which demands a certain level of expertise.

“But fearing angry customers, employees from peon to a manager are working as cashiers, and they often make mistakes while dealing with the crowd which leads to their own financial loss,” Sharma said.

According to RBI, various banks across the country has received Rs 5,44,571 crore in deposits and old notes submitted for exchange from the time banks reopened after currency demonetisation till November 18, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said. This includes deposits of Rs 5,11,565 crore and exchanged currency notes of Rs 33,006 crore.

CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association, claimed he has received thousands of complaints from banking staff across the country post the demonetisation announcement.

“There are 10 lakhs bank employees and they have catered to almost 25 crore people in these two weeks. Why is it that only banks and post offices have been involved to disburse cash? The government should have involved railways, LIC office, government offices and this will help people spread across without creating an extra burden on the banks,” he said.

The trade union leaders complained that bank managements are not bothered about how the employee seeks to address the disparity in the accounts, which needs to be tallied before they leave office.

D Gunasekaran, vice-president of the State Bank Staff Union, told News18 that bank employees often have to resort to desperate measures to mend their mistakes.

“Banks will not wait to deduct salaries of cashiers. If the accounts do not tally, then they have to debit their personal account that evening itself or take loan from others to settle the accounts before leaving the bank. In case an official fails to do this, proceedings can be initiated against him,” he said.

A lot of the human errors being committed at the teller counters has got to do with multitasking that involves checking forms, identity proofs, veracity of the old notes and then giving back the exchange in new notes.

“Every bank knows their regular customers, but now there is a new set of unknown customers who lose their temper and shout at bank officials. Some customers claim that they have not been paid and the cashier is confused. They end up paying the customers twice over. Even the cash management software is adding to their woes by often juggling up entries,” said Venkatachalam.

Secretary of the Bank Employees Federation of India, Kolkata, Joydeep Dasgupta, believes that this problem has its root in the large scale of vacancies left unaddressed in the clerical and sub-ordinate sector of the banking industry. Dasgupta told News18 that retired banking officials and clerks have now been called by several banks to fill in the vacancies and help serve more customers.

“There are over 2 lakh posts which are yet to be filled from 1987 to 2007. This crunch is being felt now when everyone in the bank is grappling to meet the rising demand of customers looking to either withdraw or exchange their old notes. In this situation cashiers are bound to be under pressure which leads to cash misplacement and their own personal financial losses,” he said.

KS Chauhan, Senior Vice-President of the Indian Banks Association, told News18 that although they are not concerned with such complains considering they are a private body but even IBA has received innumerable such complaints from banking staff over the past few days.

“The sad part is most of the cashiers have a limited salary and such issues in tallying of account shave direct impact on their personal financial standing,” Chauhan said.

Sharma said that Cashiers are also facing the problem of accepting duplicate notes and be held responsible for the same at a later date. The sudden increase in the work load has led to compromises in the ‘vigilance practiced by banking officials’.

State Bank Staff Union’s Gunasekaran said that mostly cashiers are incurring losses of Rs 8,000 or Rs 10,000 which they are paying out of their own personal accounts but in the event of a sum larger than 50,000, or 1, 00,000, the higher management would have to be brought into the picture.

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