Banking services hit as 900,000 workers go on strike for two days


Banking services, especially at branches across the country, have been hit hard after a two-day strike began by around 900,000 employees to protest the privatization of public sector banks.

Employees staged protest marches and staged demonstrations outside branches in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital. In some places, while the branches were closed, the customer service centers next door were functional. Their operations are outsourced.

UFBU national leader Sanjeev K Bandlish told Business Standard that the strike has been a complete success across the country. The forum will provide an update on the situation after Friday. The future course of action will be decided after observing the government’s response. The bill amending the laws to allow privatization is expected to be tabled during this winter session of Parliament.

The strike was called by the United Forum of Banking Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, including the Indian Confederation of Bank Officers (AIBOC), the Indian Association of Bank Employees (AIBEA) and the National Organization of Bank Employees (NOBW). Employees and managers of various public sector banks (BSP), older generation private sector banks and regional rural credit unions will take part in the strike.

Unions have been protesting since the Centre, in its 2021-2022 budget, announced plans to privatize two public sector lenders.

Stating that the strike is not in the interest of customers and investors, SBI, Canara Bank and UCO Bank, among others, urged their employees to reconsider their decision to strike.

Banks have already warned customers of the possible impact of the nationwide strike on banking operations such as clearing checks and transferring funds. They emphasized using digital banking channels for transactions to avoid difficulties.

The unions have argued that privatization will affect the implementation of all government programs aimed at the welfare of the socially and economically weaker sections of society. Bank workers, from sweepers to senior executives in Ladder 5, will observe the two-day nationwide strike and stage protests.

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