About nine lakh employees of various sarkari (state-run) banks have started a two-day nation-wide strike from 16 December to protest against the government’s move to privatise two public sector lenders, union leaders said.
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has called the two-day strike on 16 and 17 December. In Maharashtra alone, around 60,000 bank staffers will go on strike.
Most of the banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), have cautioned their customers about the strike’s possible impact on banking operations like cheque clearance and fund transfer.
After a meeting with the objective of conciliation before the Additional Chief Labour Commissioner on December 15 failed, the unions decided to going ahead with their planned strike, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) General Secretary Soumya Datta said.
The government had in the Budget 2021-22 announced its intent to take up privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) during the year.
On 13 December, all public sector lenders, including SBI, requested unions to reconsider their decision and refrain from participating in the strike in the interest of customers, investors, and banks.
Considering the ongoing pandemic situation, resorting to a strike will cause great inconvenience to the stakeholders, SBI had warned the unions.
More than 5 lakh employees had staged a one-day strike last Friday to protest against proposed mergers of sarkari banks, keeping branches shut and thinning trade in local currency and bond markets.
Why sarkari banks are observing strike
- Close to nine lakh employees of various state-run banks are participating in the strike.
- The employees and trade unions had started a protest campaign ‘Bank Bachao, Desh Bachao’ at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on 1 December.
-The unions have been protesting ever since the Centre in its Budget 2021-22 announced its intent to privatise two PSU lenders.
- “We have been advised by the Indian Banks’ Association (lBA) that United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has served a Notice of Strike, informing that the members of the constituent Unions of UFBU like AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INBEF and INBOC propose to go on a nationwide bank strike on 16 and 17 December 2021 in support of their demands. We advise that while the bank has made necessary arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices on the days of strike, it is likely that work in our Bank may be impacted by the strike,” SBI said in an exchange filing earlier.
- SBI in a tweet urged its staff members to reconsider their decision and refrain from participating in strike. “Furthermore, considering the ongoing pandemic situation, resorting to a strike will cause great inconvenience to the stakeholders,” the tweet said.
- State Bank of India (SBI) had already warned customers about the nationwide strike’s possible impact on banking operations.
- Earlier, lenders like Canara Bank, PNB, and Punjab and Sind Bank had urged their employee unions to reconsider their plan.
- The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu has extended support to the two-day nationwide strike called. Party general secretary and state minister Durai Murugan wished the strike success and announced his party’s “total support” to the protest.
- The government has decided to introduce the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. The Bill aims to privatise public sector banks.
- Bank unions under the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) umbrella have called a strike on 16 and 17 December against the proposed public sector bank privatisation