NEW DELHI :
Banking operations, including cash withdrawal and cheque clearance, were hit due to two-day nationwide strike by employee unions of public sector banks to press for wage revision.
The strike call has been given by 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) to press for wage revision pending since November 2017.
However, private sector lenders like ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank ran operations as usual.
Branches in several parts of the country remained closed and some of the ATMs also went dry, according to reports coming various parts of the country.
Many banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), had informed customers in advance that operations may be impacted to some extent due to the strike.
The strike coincided with the beginning of the Budget session of Parliament and presentation of Union Budget 2020-21.
The UFBU decided to go on strike after its discussion with Indian Banks Association (IBA) on wage revision failed in the recent round of negotiations held on Thursday.
During discussions, the IBA on Thursday improved their offer to 12.5 per cent, but this was not acceptable, the unions said.
"The bank managements and IBA did not come forward to settle the demands with a reasonable increase in salary looking to inflation and heavy workload on the employees," the UFBU said.
However, the IBA in a statement said despite the revised offer of up to 19 per cent hike, including performance linked incentive, made by it during the meeting on Thursday, the unions decided to go ahead with the all-India bank strike.
Wage revision for employees of public sector banks is pending since November 2017.
In the past wage settlement, which was for the period November 1, 2012, to October 31, 2017, employees got a hike of 15 per cent.
The IBA also rejected the unions demand for five-day banking saying, "It is known to all that the economy of the country is going through testing times. Banks being the principal players in economic development, cannot afford to provide lesser number of working days for banking activities."
The banking lobby said the country already has one of the highest numbers of public holidays and adding 26 more holidays would create more problems for the public.
"IBA is claiming five-day banking is not possible due to the tough economic situation in the country. Then how RBI, Department of Financial Services (DFS), NCLT, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and other central and state departments are working for five days in a week? Are these institutions not worried about the economic slowdown?" asked a section of agitating bankers.