New Delhi: India’s bankers want to be included in the list of frontline workers so they are vaccinated alongside health workers in the proposed first phase of Covid-19 vaccination.
In a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday, four bank unions demanded that bankers should be administered the vaccine on priority. The letter has been sent at a time when the government is doing preparatory work to inoculate health workers in the first round of planned vaccinations. Three vaccine-makers have applied for emergency use of Covid vaccines — Serum Institute of India, Pfizer and Bharat Biotech.
The four bank unions who have sent the letter are the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, the All India Bank Officers’ Association, the Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress and the National Organisation of Bank Officers.
“…We request you to use your good offices to get bankers included in the list of frontline workers so that they can be administered the vaccine in a priority manner and banking workforce can feel appreciated for the services rendered by them during these most difficult and challenging times,” the unions wrote.
“…You will surely appreciate that the bankers have been providing yeoman service ever since the announcement of lockdown and have continued to provide full and required banking services even during the lockdown and thereafter. The bankers have been instrumental in keeping the wheels of the economy moving despite hazards and constraints,” the letter added.
It said despite thousands of bankers having contracted the disease and a huge number of fatalities in the sector, they are providing uninterrupted banking services.
With banks remaining open throughout the pandemic, bankers have been unsuccessfully demanding that they be treated as Covid warriors and included in the Rs 50 lakh health insurance cover. They have also demanded a five-day working week.
Bankers had also sought better protection from local authorities amid a series of physical attacks on them, prompting the finance ministry to step in and write to the state governments to ensure safety of bankers.
Banks have played a key role in delivering many of the government’s key support measures to the population, including the disbursal of credit to small firms as well as the Rs 500 monthly payout to Jan Dhan accounts for April, May and June.