Wednesday strike to cause an abrupt halt in banking operations

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Chennai/Agartala/Bengaluru/Kolkata: About half a million bank employees are going on strike on Wednesday as a marker of their protest against the centre’s economic and labour policies. This will result in an abrupt halt in banking and insurance operations in India as cheques will not be sent for clearance. This one day delay would cause a huge setback.

This protest will also include employees from public sector, old private sector, cooperative sector, and regional rural banks. However, employees of Indian Overseas Bank and State Bank of India are not taking part in this strike.

In addition to delays in cheque clearance, the refilling of currency notes at automatic teller machines (ATM) will also be affected.

“Across the country around 500,000 bankers – workers and officers – would be participating in the strike. Around 75,000 branches will not work tomorrow (Wednesday),” All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIEBA) general secretary C.H.Venkatachalam told IANS.

Resounding with the problems faced by the workers, he said, “There are open attempts to amend labour laws in favour of the employers and to the detriment of the workers. The neo-liberal economic policies are only aggravating the problems of the workers and common masses.”

“More and more private capital and foreign direct investments are being encouraged. Private sector companies are being given licences to begin banking business,” he said.

He believes that the Regional Rural Banks are sought to be privatised. Despite the protests from employee unions, a bill has been passed in the parliament.

About 50,000 bank employees, including about 20,000 in Bengaluru are participating in the all-India shut down on Wednesday.

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Upon asked whether they were apprehensive of the authorities going all out to break the strike, BEFI’s (Bank Employees Federation of India) Biswas said: “That we will see tomorrow. But I can tell you that we are prepared for all eventualities.”

He added that the unions in the sector are demanding early conclusion of wage negotiations, finalisation of promotion policy and scrapping of outsourcing, etc.

However, associations representing the officers in LIC and the four government-owned non-life insurers are not participating in the strike.

(with inputs from IANS)