Work in state-owned banks was paralysed in Mumbai, said union officials. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UBFU), an umbrella organisation of nine unions, claimed "100 per cent participation" by employees and officers of public sector, old generation private sector and some foreign banks in the strike.
In the afternoon, over 5,000 bank staffers staged a rally at Mumbai's Azad Maidan and raised slogans opposing the proposed merger.
At least 3 million cheques, worth around Rs 23 billion, will not be cleared because of the strike, said the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), which is part of UFBU.
Each public sector bank has its own history, geography and culture in the background. If the government bulldozes the decision of the merger, it will put their customers to great hardships, said UBFU leaders who addressed the rally.
Most state lenders had informed customers about the strike. Private banks were unaffected by the strike.
This is the second bank strike in less than a week. On December 21, an officers' union of state-run banks held a day-long strike to protest against the merger and press for better wages.