New Delhi, March 15 : 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 privatisation 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 government to reconsider its decision of privatise the government banks, which may also lead to job losses.
In the Union Budget presented last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the privatisation 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 sectors 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 its normal services may be impacted at offices and branches but they were taking steps to ensure smooth functioning of certain other services.
While functioning of PSBs are 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 of striking unions push for closure at some of their branches.