Public sector bank workers to strike on Thursday

Services in public sector banks are likely to be hit on Thursday as four bank employees' unions have threatened a strike on that day to protest against the proposed Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill and mergers of public sector banks.

"If the strike materialises, a section of the bank's employees may take part in the proposed strike on the said date (20 December), in which case, the normal functioning of the branches or offices of the bank may get affected," Indian Bank said in a filing on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) and National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) have given a call for one day country-wide strike. Latest reports say the Assam Provincial Bank Employees Association has extended support to the all-India strike.

The All India Andhra Bank Award Employees' Union (AIABAEU) too has decided to join the strike. More than 9,000 employees of Andhra Bank working in 1,750 branches across the country will participate, according to an AIABAEU release in Hyderabad.

According to AIBEA general secretary C H Venkatachalam, ever since the government initiated "neo-liberal economic reforms policies", there have been repeated attempts to liberalise and privatise banking sector. "We have been consistently fighting against these policies and have conducted agitations and strike actions on various occasions in the past whenever the government took any measures of banking reforms, because these are not in the interest of our country and our economy," he said.

The unions claimed that about 500,000 employees of various public sector banks would participate in the strike. The employees' unions are saying that the amendment to the banking laws will dilute the clout of public sector banks.

In August, employees of public sector banks had gone on a two-day nationwide strike opposing banking sector reforms and outsourcing of non-core activities.