Nationwide bank strike affects bank operations

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Kolkata, Dec. 16 (ANI): The day-long nationwide strike by public sector bank employee unions to protest against the move by the Central government to merge public sector banks affected banking operations across the country on Wednesday .

The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) had given the strike call.

Bank employees wanted to protest the ongoing move to merge the State Bank of Indore with its parent State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest bank.

Pabitra Chatterjee, assistant secretary, Bengal Provincial Bank Employees' Association, said that they would intensify their protest if the merger of banks takes place.

"This merger would only help the corporate houses and would reduce the common people to pauper. That is why this Bandh, this bank strike. Despite the difficulty and temporary setback, our move will continue and we will intensify our struggle in the near future," Chatterjee told reporters in Kolkata on Wednesday.

E Arunachalam, General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Bank Employees Federation, said that the consolidation move would only result in the closure of branches.

"This is not a good decision if the banks are merged into five or six banks throughout the country, lot of closure of branches will take place. If the banks are closed customer service will be affected and it will also lead to reduction of the employees. This is totally anti-national, anti-people and anti-poor attitude. With the view to condemn the attitude of central (federal) government, today the employees are on strike. The government has to change their approach and give up this idea of merging these banks," said Arunachalam in southern Chennai city.

The government has been urging State-owned banks to merge with each other to benefit from synergies and create fewer bigger players in the sector. The government and central bank have said that any such move has to be voluntary on the part of banks.

Previously, on August 6 and 7, unions representing about 900,000 employees in State-owned banks went on strike for higher wages and pension, impacting cash transactions and foreign exchange trading volumes for two days.

Following several rounds of negotiations, Indian Banks Association and United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) reached an understanding for a 17.5 per cent wage hike for the employees in banks. (ANI)

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