Strike hits banking services; unions protest reforms

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi/Mumbai | Updated: Aug 23 2012, 06:23am hrs
Services in the public sector banks were hit as staff and officers belonging to some unions on Wednesday went on a two-day strike protesting reforms in the sector, outsourcing of non-core services to private sector and demanding pension revision among others.

Normal banking operations, including cash transactions, cheque clearances, foreign exchange dealings were affected. Customers were depending more on the ATMs as the bank managements had made advanced arrangement for loading the machines with cash.

Several banks, including SBI, have outsourced cash-loading business with private firms. Most of the ATMs have enough capacity, a senior SBI official said. However, the fund movement of individuals and corporates would get affected because of delays in cheque clearances. Besides, the volumes in the government bond market and share markets were also affected. The strike has been a success all over the country. Banking services have been affected and paralysed, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary CH Venkatachalam said in a statement.

He said employees of 24 public sector banks (PSBs) and 12 private banks participated in the strike. However, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank services were not affected.

Unions are protesting against banking sector reforms such as Banking Sector Laws Amendment Bill which seeks to remove restrictions on voting rights of foreign shareholders and increase voting rights of private investors in PSBs.

Nearly 10 lakh employees and officers all over the country participated in the strike, which will continue on Thursday as well, AIBEA said.

The impact was felt the maximum in West Bengal and eastern states, while the Shiv Sena affiliated unions in Mumbai did not participate in the strike. In the national capital the impact was significant.

Thin volume in forex mkts, say traders

Volume and liquidity in the forex markets were low on Wednesday due to strike by public sector bank employees, traders and treasury officials said.

Most probably, big banks have stayed away from the spot markets. But it is very difficult to verify as of now, currency strategist at Geojit Comtrade Hemal Doshi told PTI.

Employees of public sector banks belonging to some unions are on nationwide strike for two days opposing banking sector reforms and outsourcing of non-core activities, affecting operations. Volume and liquidity in the forex market was low as many of the public sector banks were not there in the market due to the strike, Doshi said.