Nationwide Strike Cripples Banking Ops

New Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkata/ Ahmedabad, May 21: | Updated: May 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Alleging total confusion due to overlapping of labour and finance ministry related issues, the agitating bank unions on Wednesday asked the government to set up a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the totality of the problem confronting the banking industry.

A structured forum, preferably a GoM, should be set up to sort out the confusion arising due to overlapping of labour and finance ministry issues while dealing with our problems, deputy general secretary of the All-India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), TN Goel told PTI. Meanwhile, the banking operations throughout the country remained totally paralysed on Wednesday as bank unions under the leadership of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) joined the league of Left trade unions who called a 24-hour industrial strike on Wednesday. Even though the public sector bank employees joined the strike on Wednesday, the money market saw good traded volumes. The National Stock Exchanges (NSE) wholesale debt segment reported a traded volumes of Rs 5,679.22 crore while forex market remained quite volatile amid thin trades.

The clearing operations of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was affected. One-fifth of the normal volume of about Rs 8,000 crore were seen, the RBI spokeperson said. Individual bank clearings were mostly affected as 32 banks, including a few old private sector ones, joined the stir.

Foreign and new-age private banks were active in the market and that was the reason behind the good market volumes, dealers said. Most of the public sector banks barring a few like Andhra Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank and Union Bank of India were not seen in the market. G-Sec prices rose by over Re 1 at select maturities on good buying interests from the mutual funds. Medium and longer-end dated stocks saw major buying interests, dealers said.

In Gujarat, though the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Employees Federation did not participate in the strike apart from lending support, clearing house operations remained closed with employees of all public sector banks joining the strike enmasse.

Speaking to FE, the federation general secretary, Sailesh Shah, revealed that while on a normal day clearing house activity accounts for Rs 120 crore, on Wednesday this was totally disrupted.

In West Bengal, UFBU organised picketing in front of the branches, regional and head offices of different banks and the employees were denied entry.