One-day bank strike leaves customers in the lurch

Business had a hard time on Friday as public sector banks observed a day-long strike against the government's proposal to merge the associate banks of State Bank of India with the parent bank and to privatise IDBI Bank.

The strike, which was called by the United Forum of Bank Union, did not affect facilities like ATMs and mobile banking.

The transactions for which customers have to go to the bank were disrupted, especially as many did not know about the impending strike.

Businessman, Bharat Bhushan of Mumbai told The Indian Express, ''I wanted to withdraw a large amount about which I informed the bank three days ago. They should have informed me about the strike. Now my work will suffer. You can only withdraw a limited amount from the ATMs.''

The government has proposed to merge 1,137 branches of the State Bank group, including Patiala, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Hyderabad, with the parent bank. State Bank of Indore and Saurashtra were merged in 2010 and 2008 respectively.

The employees of the banks are worried about their jobs because of the proposal. Some demands made by the bank union include acquisition of associate banks to be at par without discrimination, job security, one time inter-circle transfer option, compensatory allowance, job benefits to be passed on as they are, and all head offices of individual banks to be converted into local head office of SBI.

A senior SBI official told the Express, ''It is not the fault of bank employees that there is an increase in the number of bank defaulters. This merger will not be effective. It is only political interference in banks and lack in legal process which leads to defaulters. The government should work on that part.''