Banking hit in northwest as workers go on strike

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Chandigarh, Jan 25 (UNI) Banking activities in the Northwest region were fully paralysed as employees of public sector banks stayed away from work in response to the nation-wide strike call given by United Forum of Bank Unions in protest against mergers.

Protests and demonstrations were held outside major banking establishments in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh in which large number of bank employees and officers participated to press for their six demands.

Apart for an end to mergers in Public Sector Banks, the employess are demanding second option of pension for PF optees, restoration of compassionate appointments, recruitments in banks, end to outsourcing of normal banking jobs and services and early settlement of wage revision.

In Chandigarh, the Banking Square in Sector 17 presented a deserted look. Thousands of employees gathered in front of local head office of State Bank of India and shouted slogans.

The gathering was addressed by the leaders of all the constituents of United Forum of Bank's Union, including National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) and All India Bank Employees Federation.

Addressing the gathering, the union leaders said that today's strike was only a wake-up call for the Indian Banks Association (IBA) and Government and if they failed to meet their demands, two days strike would be observed on February 25 and 26 to be followed by the indefinite strike in March.

They further stressed that the agitation would not be called off on the verbal assurance of IBA and Government and the programme of agitation would only be terminated when all the six demands were addressed.

Meanwhile, addressing a rally in front of State Bank of Patiala, Head Office in Patiala, All India Bank Employees Association Secretary N K Gaur blamed IBA's adamant attitude towards the genuine demands of the bank employees for the agitation.

UNI XC PS JN VN1727

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