Strike halts banking operations across the country

Banking services across the country were hit today, with about a million employees belonging to both public and private sector banks going on a two-day strike demanding immediate wage revision and changes in the proposed banking sector reforms.

Strike halts banking operations across countryThe strike has affected the working of 80,000 bank offices, including 27 public sector banks and 12 private and eight foreign banks.

The strike has also affected cash withdrawals through ATMs as some of them had gone dry by Monday itself, following a heavy rush for cash on Sunday.

Bankers, however, say customers will not face much trouble this time unlike previous strikes, as the usage of debit and credit cards in retail transactions had gone up in recent times.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), the umbrella organisation of five employee unions and four officer unions of state-run banks, said it had called the strike as the discussions on wage revision have made little progress over the past one year.

UFBU had earlier called a strike on 20-21 January, which it had deferred following assurances from the Indian Banks Association (IBA) to further increase its offer, which was raised to 9.5 per cent from the initial 5 per cent (See: Bank workers firm on Feb 10-11 strike as wage talks fail).

The bank unions have been demanding a 30 per cent increase in wages while the bank managements represented by the Indian Banks Association was willing to offer an increase of 10 per cent.

Despite several rounds of conciliation meeting between IBA and UFBU, the talks remained inconclusive.

The chief labour commissioner BK Sanwaria had on 6 February, called a conciliation meeting in his office in New Delhi to end the stalemate, but both the unions and the IBA stuck to their stands.