Banking services, especially at branches across the country, have been hit hard following the commencement of a two-day strike by about 900,000 employees to protest against privatisation of public sector banks.

The strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW). Employees and officers from various public sector banks (PSBs), old generation private sector banks and regional rural banks will participate in the strike.

The unions have been protesting ever since the Centre in its Budget 2021-22 announced its intent to privatise two public sector lenders.

Stating that the strike is not in the interest of customers and investors, SBI, Canara Bank and UCO Bank, among others, urged their employees to reconsider their decision to go on strike.

Banks have already warned customers about the nationwide strike’s possible impact on banking operations such as cheque clearance and fund transfer. They have emphasised use of digital banking channels for transactions to avoid difficulties.

Employees took out protest marches and held demonstrations before branches in Mumbai, the financial capital of the country. At some places while branches were shut, customer service centres next door were functional. Their operations are outsourced.

Sanjeev K Bandlish, National Convenor, UFBU told media  that the strike has been a total success across the country. The forum will take stock of the situation after Friday. 

The future course of action will be decided after observing the government’s response. The bill to amend acts to enable privatisation is slated to be tabled in the current winter session of Parliament.

Earlier Unions have argued that privatisation will affect the implementation of all the government schemes meant for the welfare of socially and economically weaker sections of society. 

Bank employees from sweepers to senior executives in scale 5 will observe the two-day nationwide strike and hold demonstrations.