Nationwide bank strike enters Day 2, may go on like farm stir, warn unions
The two-day national strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, to register their protest against the Centre’s proposed privatisation and disinvestment plan, entered the second day on Tuesday. The unions have said that the agitation may take a form similar to the farmers’ protests going on since November last year.
The nationwide strike comes in the backdrop of Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement during the budget presentation last month that the government will privatise two more public sector banks after it divested the majority stake in IDBI Bank two years ago.
On the first day of the protest, scores of bank employees took to the streets across several states and raised slogans, including 'save PSBs', ‘sustain social banking’ and ‘safeguard people’s savings.’ Nearly a million bank staff joined the protest on Monday, according to union leaders cited by news agency PTI. The strike saw 100% participation from scale I, II, and III bank employees, a bank official told PTI. "These are assistant managers, managers and senior managers. At this level, there is 100 per cent participation in the strike and 80-90 per cent branches are headed by them," the official said.
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The move impacted key services, including cash withdrawals, deposits, cheque clearances, and remittances, across public sector banks (PSBs). PTI reported 2.01 crore cheque instruments worth ₹16,500 crore could not be processed at the three national grids in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, as per data provided by the bank unions.
"Clearing of cheques could not happen since branches are not accepting cheques for clearance as branches are closed. On average, about 2 crore cheques/ instruments worth about ₹16,500 crores are held up for clearance,” CH Venkatachalam, the general secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), told PTI.
All India Bank Officers Association's (AIBOC's) general secretary Sowmya Dutta told PTI that all bank employees, except for top-level officers, took part in the strike. The government's policies are going to have ill effects on the economy and it will be reflected in the upcoming polls in several states, he added. Talking about their future course of action, Dutta said if the government fails to listen to them, they will go for an even bigger, indefinite strike, on the lines of the ongoing farmers' agitation going on since November last year.
The strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions -- AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INBEF, INBOC, NOBW and NOBO.