Banking operations were impacted across the country on Thursday as lakhs of public sector bank (PSB) employees began their two-day strike to protest against bank privatisation.
Shutters of many branches of PSBs like State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank and Bank of India were down on Thursday across the country.
In Dimapur, United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU) Nagaland committee joined rest of the bank unions across the country.
Employees of public sector banks (PSBs) including SBI organized a protest at State Bank of India (SBI) Regional Business Office, Supermarket complex. Employees were seen with placards some of which read:“Bank Bachao Desh Bachao”, “ Withdraw Bank Law Amendment Bill 2021”, “We oppose privatization of Banks” etc.
SBI Officers Association (SBIOA) regional secretary TL Lango Neikha said that they were compelled to hold the strike since the government was not ready to listen to the demands of UFBU. He said privatization of banks was neither efficient nor safe, since many private banks had failed in the past.
He also said that privatisation would create crony capitalism, financial exclusion and would only lead to loss of jobs and at the same time make it inconvenient for the rural population to have easy banking access.
Others who spoke at the programme included deputy general secretary (ST/ SC Welfare Association) Ramesh Hasnu, SBIOA president Talisunep Longkumer and executive member of SBIOA Anthony Ngouri.
The strike call has been given by United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions including All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).
Services such as deposits and withdrawals at branches, cheque clearance and loan approvals were affected. However, ATMs at many places were working fine.
According to AIBEA general secretary C H Venkatachalam, about 20.4 lakh cheques worth Rs 18,600 crore could not be transacted on Thursday.
Private sector lenders like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were working as usual, though inter-bank cheque clearances were impacted.
To facilitate privatisation, the government has listed the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, for introduction and passage during the current session of Parliament.
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 past four years.