Banking services including branch operations and treasury operations were hit hard as staff and officers belonging to some bank unions on Wednesday went on a two-day strike protesting against reforms in the sector.
The employees unions have also sought a ban on outsourcing of non-core services to the private sector and revision in pension.
Normal banking operations, including cash transactions, cheque clearances and foreign exchange dealings were affected.
Alok Misra, chairman and managing director of Bank of India and chairman, Indian Bank’s Association (IBA), said operations were impacted by the strike. At his bank, over 75 per cent of staff abstained from work.
Customers were depending more on the ATMs as the bank managements had made advanced arrangement for loading the machines with cash.
“Several banks have outsourced cash-loading business with private firms. Most of the ATMs have enough capacity,” said a senior public sector bank executive.
However, the fund movement of individuals and business establishments may get affected due to delays in cheque clearances. The volumes in the government bond market and share markets were also impacted by the two-day strike.
Unions have sought scrapping of the move to increase ceiling on shareholders’ voting rights in private banks to 26 per cent from the present 10 per cent.
The government is seeking reforms through the sector’s Laws Amendment Bill to ease the ceiling on voting rights of foreign shareholders and increase voting rights of private investors in the PSBs.
All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said the branch operations and activities were paralysed throughout the country as employees stayed away from work. While banking reforms is a political issue, nothing is happening on sector-specific matters like compassionate appointments.
Union representatives would meet at the end of this month to chart further course of action, he said.
Maximum impact was felt in West Bengal and other eastern states. The Shiv Sena-affiliated unions in Mumbai did not participate in the strike. In the national capital, the impact was significant.
Nearly one million employees and officers all over the country participated in the strike, which will continue tomorrow as well, AIBEA said.