Banking operations got affected on Monday as the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, have gone on a two-day nationwide strike to protest against the privatisation of two state-owned lenders.
Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the government’s disinvestment plan in the Union Budget for the next fiscal.
The UFBU has called for a pan-India strike on March 15-16. It has claimed that about 10 lakh bank employees and officers of the banks are participating in the strike.
UFBU’s Maharashtra Convenor Devidas Tuljapurkar in a statement said that about 40,000 bank employees and officers working in about 10,000 bank branches across the state have joined the nationwide strike.
On the other hand, State-run lenders have informed their customers to use their digital channels like internet or mobile banking, ATM services during the two-day strike.
However, branches of private sector lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are open as they are not part of the strike.
According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary CH Venkatachalam, services at branch level; cheque clearance; and government transactions have been affected. Besides, money markets and stock markets are also going to face problems as payments would be impacted, he said.
He further said, “On an average, about 2 crore cheques/instruments worth about Rs 16,500 crore are held up for clearance. Government treasury operations and all normal banking transactions have been affected.”
Members of UFBU include All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI).
Others are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).
Apart from the bank unions, all four General Insurance Companies have decided to go on strike on March 17 and life insurance companies will go on strike on March 18.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019, and has merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.