Banking operations were hit today by the day-long, nation-wide strike called by employees of public sector banks, with ATMs running dry at various places across the country. The All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) claimed success, saying all the branches kept their shutters down.
“People could not go to banks to transact anything, deposit money, withdraw money or do any other transaction. Government treasury transactions could not be done, import and export transactions were hit, money market operations were not possible,” AIBEA General Secretary C H Venkatachalam told PTI. Money transfer and cash remittances were also hit.
Venkatachalam said clearing operations have been paralysed in a big way despite the Reserve Bank keeping its operations open because employees were not available. Some private sector banks are also part of the strike called under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) to press their demands including fixing accountability of top officers over increasing bad loans, opposing labour reforms as well as outsourcing of permanent jobs. Karur Vysya Bank and Federal Bank said Staff Union and Officers Association of the Bank under the banner of UFBU are participating in the strike.
“Regular functioning of the branches of the Bank might be affected on that day. However the Bank’s ATMs and digital channels will function to meet customer needs,” Federal Bank said. Private sector banks including ICICI, HDFC, Axis were not part of the strike.
ATMs have gone dry in various places, Venkatachalam said, adding that some banks had limited cash to keep the machines going.
UFBU is an umbrella body of 9 unions. However two of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliates — the National Organisation of Bank Workers and the National Organisation of Bank Officers — are not part of the strike.
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The demands include compensation to employees and officers for extra hours they have put in following demonetisation in November and early initiation of next wage revision.
They have also demanded adequate recruitment in all cadres, stringent measures to recover bad loans and accountability of top executives. Besides, they have pitched for criminal action against wilful defaulters.
The UFBU, which claims membership of nearly 10 lakh across banks, also requested the government for cost reimbursement of demonetisation to banks. As many as 27 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business.