With banking operations expected to come to a grinding halt on Wednesday in view of the one day nationwide strike call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in major cities across Tamil Nadu are likely to run out of cash by noon.

The warning was given by the UFBU State Convenor, C.M. Baskaran, as more than one lakh bank employees and officers of various public sector banks, private banks and foreign banks in the State would be taking part in the strike demanding immediate wage revision settlement and protesting against the ongoing banking sector reforms.

According to the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) Joint Secretary R. Vijayakumar the State had 11,232 branches and 7,652 ATMs, of which Chennai housed 1,400 branches and 500 ATMs.

Over 1.2 lakh officers and employees would take part in the strike.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Vijayakumar said that the “entire banking operations including foreign exchange and commercial transactions and clearing of cheques will come to a standstill. ATMs usually go dry on strike days due to panic withdrawal. Cash replenishment will not take place on Wednesday.”

Explaining further, Mr. Baskaran said they were forced to strike work following the lukewarm response they received from the bank management regarding a demand for wage revision, as the last wage settlement expired in October 12.

“We have been negotiating with the management for the last one year. The offer made by the Indian Banks Association (IBA) on last Saturday was too low and was not acceptable to the unions. A conciliation meeting held between IBA and UFBU in New Delhi on Monday ended in failure and hence UFBU decided to go ahead with the strike,” Mr. Baskaran said.

Reassurance

Branch managers of nationalised banks said they were taking steps to ensure that their customers were not put to any hardship and the ATMs would be replenished with adequate cash.