An official of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) -- the umbrella body of nine unions which has given the strike call -- said "over 10 lakh bank employees spread in more than 1,30,000 branches across the country have struck work hitting cheque-clearing activity".
Most public sector bank branches visited by IANS correspondents had their shutters down. Banking operations in Tamil Nadu were affected with around 55,000 bankers striking work pressing for their demands, said a report from Chennai citing a top All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) leader.
"The strike is a huge success. It is a dawn-to-dusk strike as cheque clearing operations start at 6 a.m. Bankers working in around 10,300 branches struck work protesting the policies towards the sector," C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA told IANS. Venkatachalam said around 12 lakh financial instruments valued at around Rs 7,300 crore would not be cleared.
According to PTI, Services like deposits and withdrawal at bank branches, cheque clearance, NEFT and RTGS transactions are affected. However, operations at private lenders such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were almost normal.
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) had already informed customers that functioning of branches and offices may take a hit if the strike takes off. It had also asked banks to take measures in advance to minimise the impact.
The strike has been called by all unions under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). The UFBU is an umbrella body of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).
Besides, protest against consolidation move of the government, other demands include no write-off policy for non-performing assets (NPAs) of corporate loans, declaring wilful default of loans as criminal offence and implementation of recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on recovery of NPAs, NOBW vice-president Ashwini Rana said.
The government should provide overtime for additional work during demonetisation, he said. The UFBU, which claims membership of nearly 10 lakh across banks, requested the government for cost reimbursement of demonetisation to banks. As many as 21 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total banking business.
The striking employees were protesting the "anti-people banking reforms" and demanding for compensation to employees for extra work done on account of demonetisation of high value currencies since November 8, 2016, and booking loan defaulters.
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