AIBEA : Two-day All India Bank Strike begins, clearing operations affected

Insight Online News

Hyderabad, Dec 16 : At the call of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), bank employees, officers and Managers have began their two-day nation-wide strike from Thursday to convey their opposition and protest against the move of the Central Government to privatise the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and to introduce the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the current session of the Parliament.

All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) General Secretary Ch Venkatachalam in a release said the bill will enable the Government to reduce their equity capital in the PSBs to less than 51% and allow private hands to take over the Banks.

He said as per reports reaching us from various States, the strike has begun very successfully and employees and officers have enthusiastically joined the strike.

Bank employees are conscious that the privatisation of banks will not be in the interest of the country, economy and people, besides affecting their jobs, job security and future prospect.

Because of the strike, banking transactions have been hugely affected and paralyzed. Most of the Bank branches remained closed because Branch managers also joined the Strike.

Cash transactions could not be carried out. In many places ATMs became dry.

Clearing operations were affected. In the three Clearing centres of Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, about 39 lakh cheques worth about 37,000 crore could not be taken up for clearance, Mr Venkatachalam said.

Employees of all the PSBs, old generation private banks and workmen employees of foreign banks, as well as employees of Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) participated in the strike.

Since the Bill has been listed in the Agenda for passage in the current session, we have given the call for strike.

During the conciliation meeting held by the Addl. Chief Labour Commissioner Mr S C Joshi, the Government /Finance Ministry officials stated that the Bill has not yet been introduced in the Parliament and they do not know when and whether the Bill will be introduced.

Hence, we requested the Government to assure that the Bill not be introduced in this session so that the Unions can talk to the Government and submit their details and viewpoints as to why they oppose privatisation of Banks.

The Government should also hold a wider discussions with all the stakeholders of the Banks before amending the Law, he said.

Mr Venkatachalam said we informed the Government that with such an assurance, the Unions would consider to defer the strike.

Unfortunately, the Government could not give any such assurance.

He said the Conciliation meeting was held even last evening and we attempted to convince the Government to give such an assurance. But it did not happen. Hence, we have commenced the strike as announced, the AIBEA General Secretary contended.

It is also a matter of reality that time and again public sector banks have been used to bail out ailing private sector ones such as Global Trust Bank, United Western Bank, Bank of Karad, etc.

In the recent past, it was Yes Bank, which was bailed out by the Public Sector SBI. Private sector’s largest NBFC, IL&FS, was bailed out again by public sector SBI and LIC.

In the recent past private sectors like RBL Bank, Bandhan Bank and four small finance banks have posted losses. RBI has cancelled the licence of private sector Local Area Bank, namely Subhadra Local Area Bank. Thus, common people have become scared of private sector banks since they expose their hard-earned savings.

The government claims that it is implementing various social sector loans, pension and insurance schemes such as Jan Dhan, MUDRA for unemployed youth, Swadhan for street vendors, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Suraksha bima Yojana and Direct Benefit Transfer Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Kalyan Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, etc, for the underprivileged sections of the society in which the major share is that of PSBs.
The top union leader said during the pandemic period, it is the public sector banks which have been giving uninterrupted customer services.

We therefore are of the view that privatisation of public sector banks will jeopardise the interests of the common people and backward regions of the country. We are opposed to any such retrograde move, he said.

Hence, the strike called by the UFBU today and Friday was to oppose privatisation of banks and demanding withdrawal of the Bill by the Centre.

Unions in RBI, LIC, GIC, Co-op. Banks, NABARD, have extended their fraternal support to our strike.

All the Central Trade Unions – BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, SEWA, LPF, TUCC, BKS have also extended their support to our demands and struggle.

Many political parties and members of Parliament from Congress, AITC, DMK, CPI, CPI-M and leaders of YSRCP, Shiv Sena, AAP and VCK have extended their support to our struggle, he added.

UNIINDIA

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