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Bank strike: services hit, impact to continue today




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

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

Operations in the new-generation private banks like 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 strike in certain states like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand was more severe compared to other states.

Nearly 10 lakh 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 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, FD 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 per cent of the total operations, the official said.

Reserve Bank of India 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 per cent as against 15 per cent 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 per cent.

“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 per cent hike, he said, adding that it is gross injustice to bankers who have worked very hard for nation building.

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