With the strike call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) underway on Monday, banking operations including cheque clearance across the country will be affected. The forum called for a nationwide strike to protest against the proposed privatisation of two state-owned lenders. Services such as deposits and withdrawal at branches and loan approvals are also expected to be affected due to the strike.
In the Union Budget presented last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the government's disinvestment plan. The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and has merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.
UFBU, an umbrella body of nine unions, had given a strike call for March 15 and 16, and said that about 10 lakh bank employees and officers of the banks will participate in the strike.
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Many public sector lenders, including State Bank of India (SBI) and Canara Bank have earlier informed customers that normal working could be impacted at branches and offices if the strike materialises. Banks have also said that they are taking necessary steps for the smooth functioning of bank branches and offices.
Branches of private sector lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are open as they are not part of the strike.
According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary CH Venkatachalam, services at branch level; cheque clearance; and government transactions will be affected. Besides, money markets and stock markets are also going to face problems as payments would be impacted, he said.Conciliation meetings - before the Additional Chief Labour Commissioner on March 4, 9 and 10 - did not yield any positive result, so the strike stands, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary C H Venkatachalam said.
In an earlier statement, Venkatachalam had said that privatising PSBs would risk people’s savings, will affect the disbursement of loans to those who need it, increase service charges, shutter rural branches for non-viability, affect employment opportunities, and that reserved category employees will be affected as reservation policies will not apply.
Members of UFBU include All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI). Others are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).
With PTI inputs