COVID-19: Guj banks to run with 50% staff, slashed work hours

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Ahmedabad, Apr 21 (PTI) The Gujarat government has allowed banks in the state to function with 50 per cent staff till April 30, and also reduced their working hours till that period in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection among the employees.

The government's Finance Department issued a circular on Tuesday night, a day after the State Level Banking Committee (SLBC) urged the state government to take such steps, saying that over 30 employees of banks have died due to the infection in the last one month.

Bank branches can either adopt the alternate work day method or work-from-home mode to ensure that only 50 per cent staff comes to the branches, the circular said.

The state government also curtailed the banking hours for customers by two hours.

The banking business for customers shall be undertaken from 10 am to 2 pm now, it said.

The circular added that the bank branches 'shall provide only essential services, such as cash deposit and withdrawal, to customers and preference shall be given to senior citizens'.

It also asked the banks to ensure adequate cash in their ATMs and encourage customers to use digital payment modes.

The announcement came a day after the Maha Gujarat Bank Employees Association (MGBEA), a prominent union of bank employees, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, claiming that nearly 15,000 employees of banks have tested positive for coronavirus in Gujarat so far and over 30 of them died during the 'second wave' in the last one month.

In view of the current situation, the union had put forward several demands, such as reduced cash transaction hours, extra holidays and relaxation in working hours.

The union had sought Rupani's intervention as chief minister is the chairman of the SLBC.

In the letter, the MGBEA stated that around 50,000 bank employees are working in over 9,900 branches across Gujarat and they are afraid of entering the bank premises or interacting with customers after learning that the new strain of COVID-19 is airborne. PTI PJT NP NP