Hyderabad, March 15 (Telugu Bullet) Banking services are likely to be affected across the country as lakhs of bank employees went on a two-day strike from Monday protesting the privatization of two public sector banks and ‘retrograde’ banking reforms.
About 10 lakh bank employees and officers are to participate in the strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella body of nine associations and groups.
The strike had been called after the conciliation meeting held between the bank unions and the Union Finance Ministry on March 4, 9, and 10 failed. Bank unions have been asking the government to reconsider its decision to privatize the government banks, which may also lead to job losses.
In the Union Budget presented last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the privatization of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of its disinvestment plan.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.
In the early hours of the strike call, banking operations in several branches of public sector banks seemed completely affected. The services impacted include deposits and withdrawals at branches, loan approvals, and cheque clearance. However, several ATMs continue to function normally.
Most of the banks, including the State Bank of India (SBI), have informed their customers that their normal services may be impacted at offices and branches but they were taking steps to ensure the smooth functioning of certain other services.
While the functioning of PSBs is affected, services at private banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and IndusInd Bank remain unaffected by the strike. An HDFC bank official said no major impact of the strike on their operations. Private banks fear that their operations may also be impacted by striking unions push for closure at some of their branches.