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Bank Strike: Several bank branches could be shut to protest merger, SBI likely to remain open

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New Delhi, Oct 22: Banking operations across India could be hit as two pubic sector bank unions have announced first major strike against the mega-merger of public sector banks announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama in August this year.

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Although the largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI), expects minimal impact on its operations, several other PSU banks like Bank of Baroda have warned that their banking operations could see disruption. Bank employees' union leaders have also threatened to shut down ATMs, according to a PTI report.

Several banks like Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Syndicate Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce have already declared that their operations could be paralysed due to the bank strike.

The functioning of its branches/offices may be "affected/paralyzed" due to the proposed strike, " Bank of Baroda said

"This is to inform that All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) have given a call for one day strike on 22.10.2019 in support of their various demands and issues. The above strike is at the industry level and not at bank-level issue," Bank of Maharashtra had said earlier.

Why Banks are protesting?

The AITUC termed the government's decision to merge banks as most unfortunate and totally unwarranted.

"AIBEA and BEFI have called for an all India strike of its members on October 22, in support of their demands. In the event the strike materialises, the normal functioning of the bank may get affected," Oriental Bank of Commerce said in the regulatory filing on Saturday.

The bank unions are also pressing for banking reforms, recovery of bad loans, action against defaulters.

The government in August unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four as part of plans to create fewer and stronger global-sized lenders as it looks to boost economic growth from a five-year low.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced four new sets of mergers Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India will combine to form the nation's second-largest lender; Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank will merge; Union Bank of India will amalgamate with Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank will merge with Allahabad Bank.

Last year, the government had merged Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda, creating the third-largest bank by loans in the country.

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