Public sector bank unions went on a two-day strike from Thursday to protest against privatisation of banks and demand that the government withdraw the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that would enable the government to reduce its share in public banks.
The unions, under the banner of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions including All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW), had asked the government during talks to give an assurance that the Bill would not be introduced, though it had been listed in the agenda for the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, said All-India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam. He said the unions proceeded with their strike after the government did not give any such assurance.
According to AIBEA, public sector banks had grown from 8,000 branches handling deposits of ₹5,000 crore in 1969 to 1.18 lakh branches with ₹157 lakh crore in deposits in 2021. Public banks had been a catalyst for economic growth and brought banking services to the common man, he said. He added that it was the defaulting by corporates that had led to the crisis of banks. The union claimed that the strike had been successful across the country on day one.
Public sector lenders, including State Bank of India, had informed customers that services in their branches might be affected due to the strike.
However, the private sector, especially new generation private sector lenders, like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, are working as usual. The strike is against the government's decision to privatise public sector banks which have been playing a vital role in nation building, (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam told PTI.
AIBOC General Secretary Soumya Dutta said that about 7 lakh across the country are participating in the two-day strike.
It is unfortunate that the working in over 1 lakh branches of the banks and regional rural banks has been impacted due to the strike due to the government's attitude, Mr. Dutta said.
"All banking services are impacted from cash withdrawals to deposits, business transactions, loan process, cheque clearing, account opening and business transactions,” he said.
In the Union Budget presented in February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of its disinvestment plan.
To facilitate privatisation, the government has listed the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, for introduction and passage during the current session of Parliament.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and merged 14 public sector banks in the past four years.
Banking services in Maharashtra hit as 60,000 bank employees go on two-day strike
Banking services in the State have been hit as close to 60,000 bank employees from various public sector banks are on a two-day nationwide strike beginning December 16 to protest against the government's decision to privatise two more public sector banks, unions said.
Unions claimed that about nine lakh employees of state-run banks are observing strike across the country.
United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) Convenor (Maharashtra) Devidas Tuljapurkar said approximately 5,000 bank employees will demonstrate at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday.
(With inputs from PTI)