Banking services across the tricity were affected badly on Monday, the first of the two days of a nationwide strike announced by different staff unions of public sector banks. The key issue of the employees is a pay revision reportedly due since November 2012.
Though the State Bank of India (SBI) had set up cash-deposit machines at a couple of ATM locations in Chandigarh, the main one in Sector 17 was not working throughout the day. Many people were caught unawares. Mahinder Pal Singh, a resident of Sector 44, said, "I run a business of plastics, and every day I have to deposit the day's cash. But since the machine is not working, I will have to go somewhere else or wait for the strike to end." The guard posted at the branch said no one was available to repair the machine due to the strike.
All public sector banks in the Sector-17 Bank Square were locked, though residents did not face much of a problem at ATMs. On Tuesday, ATMs are likely to go out of cash as replenishment won't be carried out due to the stir.
A protest rally with 2,000 employees was held the Bank Square under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions. Speakers criticised the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) and the government. Sanjeev Bandlish, senior vice-president of the National Confederation of Bank Employees, said the form would convene a meeting after the strike to take stock and intensify the agitation if need be.
In Panchkula, employees protested outside the State Bank of Patiala branch in Sector 8.