CPI MP Binoy Viswam has written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the recent death of a bank employee in Kerala, emphasizing the “pressure” under which public sector banks are functioning in the country.
K S Swapna, manager of Canara Bank’s Thokkilangadi branch, Kannur was found dead inside the bank on Friday. Her body was discovered by her colleagues. She had hung herself.
The police said Swapna, a mother of two teenage daughters, in her suicide note had mentioned that she decided to end her life as she was unable to withstand work pressure. According to the police, Swapna had arrived at the bank at 8.30 am on Friday. “There was no one else when she came to the bank. Later, when the Assistant Manager reached, she was discovered to have died by suicide inside the office,” said an official of Kuthuparamba police station.
As per the police, Swapna was found dead not in her cabin but inside the main hall of the bank.
“The apathy of the government to the current predicament of bank employees across the country who have tirelessly worked to build the foundations of our economy is appalling,” Viswam said in the letter.
He claimed that the suicide was another in a series of similar incidents from across the country where bank employees have taken their own lives owing to stressful working conditions.
“It is no secret that owing to the immense pressures on public banks, existing staff is facing inhuman conditions to achieve results that cannot be done with the existing human and financial resources. Multiple representations by the All-India Bank Officers Association have raised the issue of staff shortages across banks and the increase in workload without the required structural support needed to healthily achieve them,” the letter stated.
According to Viswam, the “looming fear of privatisation” creates additional work pressures for the employees.
He insisted that the finance minister start an inquiry into the working conditions of bank employees and also partake in a dialogue with representatives of the bank employees through their unions or associations in order to address their concerns.
“Finally I must ask you to ensure that the children of the deceased bank officer are looked after through proper mechanisms and the government extends every possible assistance to these young citizens who are facing these difficult times,” he added.
Meanwhile, the State Human Rights Commission on Sunday registered a case suo motu in connection with the suicide and directed the bank officials to submit detailed reports on the incidents that led the woman employee to take the extreme step. The Commission also ordered the State-level Bankers Committee to observe the work pressure being faced by bank employees in the state and submit a report within four weeks.
The Commission decided to file a case based on a complaint filed by A J Antony, a legal professional. Antony had lodged the complaint claiming that the bank employees were being put under stress to achieve innumerable targets set by banks. The commission said there were complaints that the banks in their quest to record profit were dropping recruitment and instead placing pressure on employees.