Strike cripples banking operations across country

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New Delhi/Mumbai, Sep 25 (UNI) Customers across the country were put through great hardship as bank operations were crippled for the second day today with employees and officers participating in a two-day nationwide strike to press for their demands.

The two-day strike had been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) to protest the proposed privatisation of PSU banks, government's plan to merge banks, reject Raghuram Rajan and Anwarul Hoda committee recommendations and stoppage of unrestricted entry of FDI in banks.

The strike, which had hit the clearing operations, was almost total in Maharashtra though some foreign banks were functioning normally.

Dharnas and rallies were organised in Patna, Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Munger, Purnea, Bhagalpur, Motihari and several other places in Bihar by the bank employees. Clearing house operations in different parts of the state also remained paralysed resulting in the suspension of clearing of cheques worth more than Rs 5,000 crore.

ATM services of several banks were also affected.

This is the second countrywide bank strike this year to press for the employees' demand, causing severe inconveniences to millions of customers across the nation.

In Kerala, agitating employees held demonstrations in front of banks. Even the private sector banks closed their offices in some places. Many banks could not open due to shortage of staff. New generation banks such as ICICI, HDFC, AXIS and Centurion also closed their branches in Kozhikode following intervention by those supporting the strike. Later the strikers, numbering about 300, held a demonstration before the State Bank of India office at Mananchira in Kozikode.

The strike affected an estimated business of Rs 20-25,000 crore in Chhattisgarh.

About 3,000 employees of 65 bank branches in Puducherry struck work and assembled in front of the UCO Bank today where they staged a dharna. ATM services were also totally affected causing hardships to traders and general public.

In Visakhapatnam, several bank employees and union leaders resorted to agitation before State Bank of India main branch in support of their demands. Operations was also affected in Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam Districts.

UNI TEAM SR AS1854

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