Maha banks paralysed as 50K staffers launch strike

Normal banking operations were virtually paralysed as over 50,000 bank employees in around 10,000 branches in Maharashtra struck work for two days, starting from Monday, union leaders said here.

“We have joined the million-plus bank officers and employees spread in over 100,000 branches of 12 public sector, 12 private sector, 6 foreign, 56 rural and other banks across the country,” United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) Convenor Devidas Tuljapurkar said.

He said all the employees and officers, from the Class IV staffers to top executives, are protesting against the Centre’s announcement in the Union Budget on privatization of the IDBI and two public sector banks, and related issues.

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions the employees could not organize demonstrations, rallies or sit-ins as in the past, said Maharashtra State Bank Employees Federation President Nandu Chavan.

However, the bankers moved around in small groups wearing masks at major locations, railway stations, markets, public places and outside bank premises distributing pamphlets to create awareness and solicit peoples’ support for their cause.

“Since the strike was total, business worth Rs 30-lakh-crore came to a grinding halt as cash and cheque clearing functions could not take place. Moreover, by noon many ATMs ran out of cash,” Chavan told IANS.

The bank unions will meet again tomorrow to chalk out plans to launch an indefinite agitation if the government does not concede their demands, warned Chavan.

The nationwide strike call was given by UFBU — the apex body of nine major unions — AIBEA, NCBE, AIBOC, AIBOA, INBOC, INBEF, NOBW, NOBO and BEFI, spread across the country’s banking industry.

Though many cooperative banks did not join the strike, their banking operations were also hit, while customers joined the striking employees in some towns and villages, he added.