Banking operations across country hit by strike

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New Delhi/Mumbai, Sep 24 (UNI) Banking operations, including ATM services, came to a standstill, with employees of Public Sector banks across the country taking part in the two-day nation-wide strike which began today to protest the Centre's move to privatise and merge PSBs.

The strike has 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.

Talking to UNI, UFBU convener C H Venkatachalam said they had no option but to go for the strike after a conciliatory meeting, convened by the chief labour commissioner here yesterday, failed to break the impasse.

''The strike was the result of the failure of talks on various issues with the chief labour commissioner,'' Mr Venkatachalam said.

Meanwhile, UFBU's Bengal unit convener Malay Roy said the talks failed due to a 'negative' approach by the Indian Bank Association.

They also demanded implementation of MoU between IBA and UFBU on issue of one more option for pension to PF and others and announcement of pension benefits for employees.

In the capital city, about nine lakh bank employees of 26 public sector banks are on strike, with nearly 50,000 employees from 26 public sector banks like the State Bank of India and the Punjab National bank participating in the protest.

In Madhya Pradesh, about 40,000 employees in nearly 2,500 branches of various nationalised banks joined the UFBU's strike.

Some private bank employees, including Bank of Rajasthan, also became part of the agitation. In Bhopal, rallies were taken out and meetings organised on the first day of the strike.

In West Bengal, the union workers sat on dharnas before the gates of banks ensuring that no employee could get in.

In Karnataka, more than ten lakh employees and officers in banking industries joined the strike, while the strike disrupted normal banking transactions in as many as 50,000 branches of Maharashtra, including about 15,000 branches of SBI and its six subsidiaries.

Clearing operations, cash handling, forex and money markets operations were also affected badly.

All India Bank officers' Confedaration, in a press release, claimed that the strike was a ''big success'' and it will continue tomorrow also.

UNI Team SG AS1808

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