Banking services are likely to hit across the country on 15th and 16th March as the employees of various public sector banks have prepared to go on a strike over the Centre’s decision to privatise two state-owned lenders.
As per a report in The Indian Express, Banks were already closed on March 13 (second Saturday) and March 14 (Sunday), leading to a four-day break in regular banking operations. ATMs will likey functional but services such as deposits and withdrawal at branches, cheque clearance and loan approvals would be affected due to the strike.
Private banks, like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank, will be functioning normally, but these account for only one-third of banking services in the country.
The strike comes in the wake of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's announement in the Union Budget 2021-22 of privatisation of two public sector banks (apart from IDBI Bank) as part of the government’s disinvestment drive to generate Rs 1.75 lakh crore. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions has decided to call the strike.
The IDBI Bank is already privatised by the government by selling its majority stake to the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) in 2019 and merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.
Conciliation meetings – before the Additional Chief Labour Commissioner on March 4, 9 and 10 – did not yield any positive result, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary C H Venkatachalam had said in a statement. Venkatachalam expects around 10 lakh bank employees and officers to participate in the strike.
State Bank of India explaining the consequences of the strike said, ""We inform that, we have been advised by lndian Banks Association lBA that United Forum of Bank Unions UFBU which comprises 9 major Unions, viz. All lndia Bank Employees’ Association AIBEA, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation AIBOC, National Confederation of Bank Employees NCBE, All lndia Bank Officers’ Association AIBOA, Bank Employees Federation of India BEFI, Indian National Bank Employees Federation INBEF, Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress INBOC, National Organisation of Bank Workers NOBW & National Organisation of Bank Officers NOBO, has given a call for all lndia strike by Bank Employees on 15th & 16th March, 2021. While Bank has made all arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices, it is likely that work in our Bank may be impacted by the strike,"