Banking operations across the country came to a halt on Tuesday as 10 lakh bankers staged a strike against the government’s “anti-people banking reforms”, said a bank union leader.
The strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), comprising nine unions.
They also pressed for compensation to employees for extra work done on account of demonetisation.
“Around 85,000 branches of commercial banks, 105,000 branches of co-operative bank and others are on strike,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) told IANS here.
He said clearance of 40 lakh cheques totalling around Rs 22,000 crore would be affected.
The strike covers employees and officers in all public sector banks, including State Bank of India, all old-generation private banks, foreign banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks.
An officer in a government-owned bank preferring anonymity told IANS: “The clerical staff will get overtime allowance for working extra during the demonetisation period. But the officers will not get anything and in addition they will be losing a day’s salary due to the strike.”
Not agreeing with that view, D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, Senior Vice President of the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), told IANS: “Our demand is to treat all the employees equally. And officers will also get their due share.”
He said the strike is a total success across the country.
Venkatachalam said the shutdown comes after all attempts to find a solution to the demands raised by the unions yielded no results.
The conciliation meeting before the Chief Labour Commissioner on February 21 failed to break the deadlock as the bank management body — Indian Banks Association (IBA) — did not agree to the union demands.
Most state-run banks have informed customers that functioning of branches and offices would be hit if the strike was observed on Tuesday.
New generation private banks like — ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and others — are not part of the union and continued to function normally but cheque clearances did not take place.
Besides, cash transactions would also be hit and the ATMs are likely to be emptied early during the day.
“ATM operations are yet to normalise after the demonetisation of high value notes. It seems people have resigned to the situation of less cash,” Venkatachalam added.