Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banking operations paralyzed due to two day strike

Public sector bank employees went on two day strike which paralyzed the banking operations across the country. Over one million employees stayed off from work.

A two-day nationwide strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions. The employees are protesting against bank mergers and are demanding a wage revision. Due to two-day strike customers faced difficulty as they were unable to carry out their normal banking transactions. Several bank branches remain closed in Mumbai and other cities.

Due to strike an automated teller machines (ATMs) of most lenders, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of India and Corporation Bank, ran out of cash at certain locations and customers were unable to withdraw cash. The other banking transactions like clearing operations, real time gross settlement (RTGS) and forex transactions were also hit by the strike.

According to Lalit Nagda, the general secretary of the Maharshtra State Federation of Bank Unions in Mumbai alone, transactions worth more than Rs 35,000 crore were hit because of the strike. The union also participated in the strike along with the eight associations that had called the strike.

“Everyday 300,000 to 350,000 instruments are traded in Mumbai,’’ he added.

United Forum of Bank Unions Convenor C H Venkatachalam said if the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), the apex body of banks, did not attended to their demands in due time the agitation would be intensified further. He informed that banks can go for more than a two-day strike next time.

A bank union controlled by the Bal Thackeray-run Shiv Sena did not participated in the strike as it was not invited to participate in the initial round of discussions for the protest.

However the treasury operations of banks were not affected by the strike as officers were not a part of the stir.

A senior executive at Union Bank of India said but, volume of transactions in the money market was down due to an overall liquidity crunch.

There was around 23 per cent of attendance of total 39,000 employees of Central Bank of India. The All India Bank Officers Confederation told that no transactions took place on the second day.

A few branches, like the Nariman Point branch, of Union Bank of India employees had not participated in the strike so the banking operations were carried out partially.

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