New Delhi: Coinciding with the first day of the Budget session of Parliament, public sector banking operations across the country were hit as employees went on a two-day strike from Friday. In effect, banks will be closed for three days, including Sunday.
Bank unions went on strike after wage revision talks with the Indian Banks Association (IBA) failed on Thursday.
The strike affected cash deposit, withdrawal, cheque clearances, instrument issuance and loan disbursement operations.
In Bihar, nearly 30,000 employees of different public sector joined the two- day strike, hitting operations.
Hundreds of bank employees took to streets to protest across the state, shouting slogans and staging dharnas in front of banks.
The strike call has been given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, including All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).
The striking bank employees have threatened to go on strike from March 11 to 13 if their demands are not met by the government.
Sanjay Singh, a leader of the employees’ union, told Newsclick that the wage revision for employees of public sector banks was pending since November 2017. The unions are demanding 20% hike on pay slip components with adequate loading.
In the past wage settlement, which was for the period November 1, 2012, to October 31, 2017, the employees got a hike of 15%.
In Madhya Pradesh, around 31,000 employees stayed away from work, a union functionary told news agency, PTI.
"Operations in 7,000 out of 7,428 branches of public and private, old commercial and other banks were affected in the state due to the strike. Out of 32,000 bank staff in MP, 31,000 are participating in the strike," secretary of Madhya Pradesh Bank Employees Association (MPBEA) MK Shukla told PTI.
The strike had also affected cash flow in some 9,700 ATMs in the state, besides routine functions like withdrawals and deposits, he added.
In West Bengal, too, banking services were hit. All nationalised, private and foreign lenders in the city remained shut responding to the strike call, a source at All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), one of the constituents of UFBU, told PTI.
"The strike has been 100% successful so far. If the IBA does not pay heed to our demands, we will call for another strike," Sanjay Das, the general secretary of the West Bengal unit of AIBOC, told PTI.
Operations at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), however, were not affected by the strike.
Das said the IBA had offered a 13.5% wage hike against 20% demanded by the UFBU. He also said that the association had rejected the bankers' demand for five-day work week.
"This is the reason why talks failed, he added.
On Thursday, AIBEA General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said: “IBA's rigid approach has left unions with no option than to go on strike”, adding, "We appeal to the banking customers to bear with us for this disruption in services due to the strike but the same has been forced on us by the bank managements and IBA."
(With Inputs from PTI and Mohd Imran Khan in Patna)