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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Nationwide strike to protest against proposed privatisation of two state-owned lenders impacts services of PSU banks

Branches of private sector lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are open as they are not part of the strike.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
Updated: March 15, 2021 3:41:27 pm
Bank strikeBank employees in Vadodara protest against the proposed privatisation of two PSBs (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Banking operations, including cheque clearance, got affected across the country on Monday as bankers under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) have gone on a nationwide strike to protest against the proposed privatisation of two state-owned lenders.

UFBU, an umbrella body of nine unions, had given a strike call for March 15 and 16, and claimed that about 10 lakh bank employees and officers of the banks will participate in the strike.

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).

The other members 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).

Bank strike Bank employees protest in Chandigarh on Monday (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

However, branches of private sector lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are open as they are not part of 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.

According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary CH Venkatachalam, services at branch level, cheque clearance and government transactions have been affected. Besides, money markets and stock markets are also going to face problems as payments would be impacted, he said.

In Bengal, banking operations were severely hit as officers and employees of public sector lenders went on a strike to protest against the proposed privatisation of two state-owned banks.

bank strike Bankers under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions have called the two-day strike. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

“We have got a tremendous response. Our strike call has also been supported by the National Confederation of Officers Association, farmers, CITU and AITUC,” All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) joint general secretary Sanjoy Das said.

“There are around 6,000 branches of public, private and foreign banks in West Bengal. Most of the bank branches in the state are closed due to the strike. ATMs are not functioning except those located at hospitals, railway stations and airports,” he added.

Banking services in Maharashtra were also severely hit as around 40,000 bank employees and officers joined the strike.

UFBU’s Maharashtra convenor Devidas Tuljapurkar in a statement said that about 40,000 bank employees and officers working in about 10,000 bank branches across the state have joined the nationwide strike.

State-run lenders, including Central Bank of India among others, have asked their customers to use their digital channels like internet or mobile banking, and ATMS services for making transactions during the two-day strike.

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