RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, India

Banking operations in India hit by nationwide strike

Most banking transactions across India were affected by strikes of some one million staff.


The bank employees were protesting proposals to divest government stake in these state-run institutions, besides to demand a host of welfare schemes.

"Nearly one million bank employees in state run, private sector as well as foreign banks struck work today. The nationwide response to the strike call was good," said the convener of the United Forum of Bank Unions, C.H. Venkatachalam.

Cheque clearing operations were impacted, although some private banks were functioning.

But cash withdrawals operations continued due to the automated teller machines.

The employees decided to proceed on the day-long strike after their talks Thursday with Financial Services Secretary D.K. Mittal as well as the top brass of the Indian Banks Association, the umbrella body for bank managements, remained inconclusive.

Sushobhan Datta Majumder, one of the spokespersons for the union, explained that the strike was particularly aimed at the amendments in banking laws that were proposed to be made during the current session of parliament.

"We find the government's equity in public sector banks is being diluted and reduced, and consequently, the private capital in public sector banks is increasing," said Harvinder Singh of the All India Bank Officers' Confederation.

"We demand that public sector banks should not be privatised and the government's equity in our state-run banks should not be reduced. Do not avail World Bank loan to capitalise public sector banks."

Other demands include: no merger of state-run banks, no outsourcing of permanent banking jobs to private sector, resumption of recruitment in right earnest, jobs to family members on compassionate grounds and framing of guidelines for housing, car and other loans.

The union officials said they will meet Aug 10 in Bangalore to decide on the next course of action.

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