State-owned banks remain closed as unions strike work
21 December 2018
Employees of state-owned banks have staged a nationwide strike in protest against the proposed mergers that, the employee unions say, could cause job losses and demanded immediate hike in wages.
The strike called by the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) hit banking operations in most public sector banks across the country. However, it is business as usual for private sector banks as they are not part of the strike.
Most of the banks have already informed their customers about the strike and its impact on banking operations.
AIBOC has a membership of over two million officers and affiliates in all major state-run banks and 10 private banks. The strike by employees responsible for day-to-day operations of banks, however, shut down all customer services of state-run banks.
The 21 state lenders hold two-thirds of India's banking assets and account for 70 per cent of banking transactions in the country.
These banks also own bulk of the Rs10,50,000 crore soured loans in the banking sector last year, and are handicapped in their lending operations.
Bank unions blame the management and the government for loan losses, attributing this to banks dealing with unscrupuless borrowers. They say the employees bear the brunt of bank failures that are actually brought about by the management
Services at ATMs are expected to be normal during today's bank strike, but are likely to be affected on 26 December since more bank unions will be involved, news agency IANS reported.
Banks will thus remain closed for most part of the extended Christmas weekend because of the two days of strike and other holidays including Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday (Christmas). Between Friday and Wednesday, most bank branches will be open only for a day, on Monday.
The immediate trigger is the government proposal to merge of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank.
The government, earlier this year, announced plans to merge the three state-run banks to create India's third-largest bank as part of efforts to clean up the banking system, which has been overburdened by bad debts.
Unions say that the merger of these three banks will lead to job cuts and allow private sector banks to dominate the industry.