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Bank employees during a demonstration as part of their two-day strike to press for wage revision, in Patna on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
Bank employees during a demonstration as part of their two-day strike to press for wage revision, in Patna on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

More disruptions ahead as bank strike to continue nationwide today

As the bank strike coincides with the month-end, salary withdrawals from bank branches were affected on Wednesday even as ATMs remained shut

New Delhi:Banking operations in the country were hit on Wednesday as 10 lakh employees, primarily from PSU banks, went on two-day strike to protest against a “meagre" 2% salary hike offered by Indian Banks Association (IBA)—the management body.

The bank strike, also supported by employees of some old generation private sector banks and foreign banks, will continue on Thursday.

Operations in the private banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank were however almost normal, barring few activities including cheque clearance.

There were reports of disruption in banking operations in various states. The impact of the bank strike in certain states like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand was more severe compared to other states.

A security guard in a bank as counters are seen empty due to the bank employees’ two-day nationwide strike to press for wage revision, in Bikaner on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
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A security guard in a bank as counters are seen empty due to the bank employees’ two-day nationwide strike to press for wage revision, in Bikaner on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Nearly 1 million employees, working in various branches of 21 public sector banks, 13 old generation private sector banks, six foreign banks and 56 regional rural banks across the country went on the strike as IBA offered them a nominal wage revision, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), affiliate of UFBU said in a statement.

Since the bank strike coincides with the month-end, salary withdrawals from branches are likely to get affected.

Some ATMs went dry by the evening. Operations like deposits, fixed deposit renewals, government treasury operations, money market operations were hit by the strike.

A RBI official said some digital banking work was done through electronic systems like the RTGS but the functioning of banks’ servers was hit.

Digital banking comprises about 5% of the total operations, the official said. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) remained operational though the trade unions offered moral support for the ongoing strike, a RBI trade union leader said.

As several rounds of talks between banks and the unions of their employees did not make any headway, the United Forum of Banking Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, has gone on strike against the proposed wage hike of 2% as against 15% given last time, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said.

In the last wage revision in 2012, the bank employees got a raise of 15%. “It is kind of an insult to the employees of public sector banks...to be offered this kind of meagre hike. We had no other option but to go on strike, forgoing two days’ salary," All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) joint general secretary Ravinder Gupta said.

Success of all government schemes like Mudra, Jandhan and demonetisation were ensured by public sector bankers but the reward is just 2% hike, he said, adding that it is gross injustice to bankers who have worked very hard for nation building.

Bank employees hold a demonstration as part of their two-day nationwide strike to press for wage revision, in Ahmedabad. Photo: PTI
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Bank employees hold a demonstration as part of their two-day nationwide strike to press for wage revision, in Ahmedabad. Photo: PTI

Employees are participating in the nation-wide strike as part of “our democratic right" by forgoing our salary, Venkatachalam said and hoped that good sense would prevail.

IBA has asked the six banks including SBI, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Union Bank and Bank of Baroda to reconsider their decision and allow IBA to settle wages for bank employees up to scale seven instead of up to scale three employees.

There are about 85,000 branches of 21 public sector banks across the country having business share of about 70%. Most of the banks, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda, have already informed their customers about functioning of branches and offices due to strike.

Industry chamber Assocham said the two-day nationwide bank strike may affect customer transactions worth up to Rs20,000 crore. It also urged the government to come up with a stimulus plan for restoring the health of PSU banks.

State-owned lenders are grappling with high levels of bad loans and as per reports their losses for the quarter ended March 2018 are set to hit a record Rs50,000 crore which is more than double the losses of Rs19,000 crore in preceding quarter ended December 2017, Assocham said in a statement.

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