Banking services on Tuesday, March 16, will also remain affected as bank unions and employees continue to protest as part of a two-day national strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions.
The strike, which began on March 15, is against the government's decision to privatise two public sector banks. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the government's disinvestment plan in the Union Budget for the next fiscal year. Consequently, several bank unions have come forward protesting against the government's decision to stop the banks' privatisation.
The bank strike, called by UFBU, claimed that about 10 lakh bank employees and officers of the banks are participating in the strike.
During the first day of the bank strike, services such as cash withdrawals, deposits, cheque clearing, and business transactions remained impacted across the country.
UFBU's Maharashtra Convenor Devidas Tuljapurkar said about 40,000 bank employees and officers working in about 10,000 bank branches across the state joined the nationwide strike on Day-1.
Members of UFBU include All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI). Others are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).
According to Sowmya Dutta, AIBOC General Secretary, the government policies are going to have ill effects on the economy. He said nearly all bank employees have taken part in the two-day strike except for top-level employees. "All banking services are impacted from cash withdrawals to deposits, business transactions, loan process, cheque clearing, account opening, and business transactions," he said.
He said the striking employees have taken out rallies, wherever permitted, across the country, and staged sit-ins and if the government does not listen to them, they will go for an even bigger, indefinite strike like the one on the lines of ongoing farmers' agitation.
"We are connected to crores of the population through our branches, we are educating our customers about the government's ill policies and how it is going to impact them," Dutta said.
Several public sector banks, including State Bank of India, Canara Bank, and Bank of Maharashtra, among others, had notified their customers of the two-day bank strike. They asked their customers to use their digital channels like the internet or mobile banking, ATMs services for making transactions during the two-day strike.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and has merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.