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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Banking services come to a halt as two-day strike begins

Banking services across the country were hit as about 10 lakh employees from public sector, old-generation private sector and regional rural banks stayed away from work on Day 1 of the two-day strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).

The strike, which was called by the umbrella body of nine trade unions to oppose, among others, the Government’s proposal to increase shareholder voting rights, unfriendly human resource policies, received an “overwhelming response,” according to Vishwas Utagi, Secretary, All-India Bank Employees Association.

Due to the strike, it is estimated that cheques aggregating about Rs 40,000 crore across the country could not be presented for clearing and settlement on Wednesday. In Mumbai alone, clearing transactions worth about Rs 7,000 crore could not take place.

Small businesses transacting with only public sector banks are likely to have faced the brunt of the strike as current account transactions were affected.

However, cash transactions were not affected because banks ensured that ATMs are sufficiently stacked with money. “Our ATMs are fully loaded to cover withdrawals till Saturday,” Vilas Palav, Branch Manager, SBI, Fort Branch, Mumbai, said.

“The strike’s motive is to defend the public sector banks. We want banking to expand to rural areas and not allow FDI to hijack our banking system. We have sacrificed our two-day salary… “There is no question of calling off the strike and it will go on as scheduled tomorrow. We will go on strike again if the Banking (Laws) Amendment Bill gets tabled in Parliament,” said Utagi.


According to Gautam Bose, convenor, UFBU (West Bengal unit), nearly 8,000 branches of public, private and foreign banks in the State were a part of the strike.

Shutters at most of the ATMs of public sector and private sector banks in the State were down as the personnel guarding the machines participated in the stir. “Close to 1.5 lakh employees working across 8,000 branches participated in the strike,” Bose said. Among private banks, only the old private banks are participating in the strike.

Loss estimate

Assocham has pegged the loss due to the all-India bank strike on Wednesday at Rs 10,000-15,0000 crore. It has urged the UFBU to call off the strike on Thursday.


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