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Banking services get hit as employees go on strike

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Mumbai: The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has today called for a day-long nation-wide strike to protest the government’s bank consolidation and privatisation move. The UFBU is an umbrella body of nine unions, including All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW). The strike has affected over 42,000 branches of 21 public sector banks. The strike has also affected deposit and withdrawal in bank branches, cheque clearance, NEFT and RTGS transactions in these branches. However, operations at private lenders such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are expected to be normal except delay in cheque clearances.

The Unions call for nation-wide strike came in the backdrop of news that the government was working on a consolidation agenda with a view to creating 3-4 global-sized banks and reduce the number of state-owned lenders to about 12. If the government moves on the plan, the 21 public sector banks would get consolidated to 10-12 in the medium term.

Apart from this, the unions have several other demands such as no write-off policy for non-performing assets or NPAs of corporate loans, declaring wilful default of loans as criminal offense and implementation of recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on recovery of NPAs. NOBW Vice-President Ashwini Rana protested the bank charge hike and said the banks should not pass on the burden of corporate NPAs to bank customers by increasing charges. He further said that the government should compensate for the additional work during demonetisation.

Except the State Bank of India, no other public sector bank has made any official announcement. However, it is expected that all public sector banks will be shut by this strike.

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