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Bank strike hits services in Kolkata, several ATMs stay shut

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, decided to go on strike after talks on wage revision with the Indian Banks Association (IBA) failed to reach a consensus.

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With Sunday being a holiday for banks, normal services will be restored only after three days, on February 3.

Banking services were hit and customers inconvenienced in the city on Friday — the first day of the two-day nationwide strike called by employee unions to press for wage revision. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, decided to go on strike after talks on wage revision with the Indian Banks Association (IBA) failed to reach a consensus.

All nationalised, private and foreign lenders in the city remained shut responding to the strike call, a source at All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), one of the constituents of UFBU, said.

Cash deposit, withdrawal, cheque clearances, and loan disbursement have been put on hold, the source said, adding that ATMs remained shut in several places. “The strike has been 100 per cent successful so far. If the IBA does not pay heed to our demands, we will call for another strike,” Sanjay Das, the general secretary of the West Bengal unit of AIBOC, said.

The strike coincides with the presentation of Union Budget 2020-21. With Sunday being a holiday for banks, normal services will be restored only after three days, on February 3.

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Operations at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), however, were not affected by the strike, he said. Das said the IBA had offered a 13.5 per cent wage hike as against 20 per cent demanded by the UFBU.

He also said that the association has rejected the bankers’ demand for five-day work week. “This is the reason why talks failed. The last wage revision was carried out five years ago and we got a 15 per cent hike. How can we settle for 13.5 per cent?” he added.

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