Nationwide 2-day bank strike to protest against proposed privatisation impacts services of PSU banks

Banking operations, including cheque clearance, got heavily affected across India on 15 and 16 March, 2021 as bankers under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) have gone on a 2-day nationwide strike to protest against the proposed privatisation of two state-owned lenders.

UFBU claimed that about 10 lakh bank employees and officers of the banks had participated in the strike. However, branches of private sector banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank were open as they were not part of the strike.

In the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the government’s disinvestment plan. 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.

According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary CH Venkatachalam, services at branch level, cheque clearance and government transactions have been affected. Besides, money markets and stock markets have also faced problems as payments would be impacted, he added.

C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA, stated, “On an average, about 2 crore cheques/instruments worth about Rs. 16,500 crore are held up for clearance. Government treasury operations and all normal banking transactions have been affected.”

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