Banking services at around 80,000 bank branches across the country were hit on Friday as employees of public sector banks went on a one-day strike to protest against the proposed merger of SBI associates with the parent and other banking reforms.
The United Forum of Banks Unions (UFBU), the umbrella organisation of nine bank employees and officers unions representing ten lakh staffers, has gone ahead with the strike, affecting services like cheque clearances, cash deposit and withdrawal at branches and other facilities. ATMs were not functional in many places across the country. “The All India State Bank Officers’ Federation and the All India State Bank of India Staff Federation are members of UFBU. Thus, it is likely that the bank will also be impacted to some extent by the said strike calls,” SBI had said in a statement.
However, private sector banks were working as usual. Industry chamber Assocham said the strike is likely to affect transactions worth Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore. “PSBs are already less profitable and have relatively higher ratios of non-performing assets (NPAs) compared to private sector banks. As such a complete halt of banking transactions following UFBU’s decision to go on strike might result in significant losses,” Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said.
According to the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary, C H Venkatachalam, normal operations at branches across all PSU banks were affected. The conciliation meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner on July 26 did not yield any positive results. “The unions were ready for meaningful discussion, but the government only tried to justify their present policy decision on banking reforms and hence, there was no meeting point,” he said. Vishwas Utagi, convener, UFBU, said the Central government must reverse the decision of merging five associate banks of SBI with the latter.