Banking, financial activites marginally affected by strike

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Mumbai, Aug 20 (UNI) Banking and financial activities in the financial capital of the country today remained more or less functional despite a day-long nationwide strike by the state-run bank unions, representing over six lakh employees, to protest consolidation of public sector banks and increasing the limit of foreign direct investments (FDI) in financial sector of the country.

Thousands of bank employees held rally in the metropolis, responding to the nationwide strike called by the central trade unions, shouting slogans and waving flags at the historic place in South Mumbai-Azad Maidan.

Some state-run bank branches in the city were closed. However, working at number of major banks branches including the State Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank was normal.

In the financial markets, dealers said trading volumes were lower than normal but trade was not disrupted. Trading and settlements at Bombay Stock Exchange as well as at National Stock Exchange were not affected by the strike, according to official sources.

The employees union of State Bank of India did not participated in the strike but supported the demand of agitators by as they staged a dharna and strike yesterday, an Employees Union convenor said.

The union members expressed their view against government policies stating them to be anti-workers and anti-organisation that also included the merger of small public sector banks.

Talking to UNI, All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) General Secretary S Nagrajan said, ''The policy practices of the ruling government such as the merger of state-run banks, increasing the FDI limit in financial sector and open entry of foreign banks is not in favour of general public at a time when it is a prime concern of the country to focus much on financial inclusion.'' Pointing out the call of a Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India Usha Thorat for greater financial inclusion, he said it was not the time of consolidation but its the time for expansion and increasing the numbers of branches in the remote areas of the country.

The present government plan to consolidate all the public sector banks into a group of five banks can never be justified as it will limit the fundamentals of proper representation and limit the participation of bankers in decision making, Mr Nagrajan said adding, ''Consolidation will lead to law and money in the few hands.'' UNI PP RN SKB GL BD2140

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