Banking services partially impacted due to strike

New Delhi, Oct 22 (PTI) Some banking operations such as over the counter transactions were impacted in many parts of the country on Tuesday as employee unions of public sector banks went on a day-long strike to protest against merger and reduction in the savings rate. Reports coming from various parts of the country indicated that some of the services like cash deposit and withdrawal at the counter as well as cheque clearances were impacted. However, private sector banks were fully functional. Branches of public sector banks in many parts of the country were closed despite officers not being part of the strike call. Most of the banks, including SBI, had informed their customers about the strike call given by All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) to protest bank mergers and reduction in deposit rates. In August, the government announced a plan to merge 10 public sector lenders into four to create fewer and stronger global-sized banks. It had announced four new sets of mergers of state-run banks-- Punjab National Bank taking over Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India; Syndicate Bank merging with Canara Bank; Union Bank of India amalgamating with Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank merging with Allahabad Bank. "Already the government has effected the merger of associate banks with SBI, and Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda, and in this process around 3,000 bank branches have been closed. If this (of 10 banks) merger takes place maybe another 2,000 bank branches will be closed," AIBEA general secretary C H Venkatachalam said. The union said the government is merging banks to serve the interests of big businesses who have looted these banks in the form of non-payment of loans. Last month, officers' unions had called a two-day all India bank strike on September 26 and 27, which was later withdrawn following the government's intervention. PTI DP ANZ MR