Close to 9 lakh employees of several state-owned banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB), Central Bank of India, will go on a two-day nationwide strike from Thursday.
The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), which is an umbrella body of nine bank unions, has called a two-day strike in the country to protest against the government’s move to privatise two public sector lenders.
SBI, in an exchange filing, had said, “We have been advised by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) that United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has served a notice of strike, informing that the members of the constituent Unions of UFBU viz. AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INBEF and INBOC propose to go on a nationwide bank strike on 16th & 17th December, 2021 in support of their demands. We advise that while the bank has made necessary arrangements to ensure normal functioning in its branches and offices on the days of strike, it is likely that work in our bank may be impacted by the strike.”
Similarly, other government banks have also issued notices saying that their operations are likely to take a hit due to the disruption. They have also cautioned their customers about the strike’s possible impact on banking operations like cheque clearance and fund transfer.
Why the strike?
“The strike is because of the Bill. If the government says that the Bill will not come in this session, then we will not insist on strike,” C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA, said.
The government has decided to introduce the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 during the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament. The bill aims to privatise public sector banks.
Venkatachalam added that “We reiterated our stand that if the government would assure that the Bank Privatisation Bill (Banking Laws Amendment Bill, 2021) would not be tabled during this session of the Parliament, we would be inclined to reconsider the strike but the government could not give any such assurance to us.”
He claimed that if PSBs are privatised, then bank branches in rural and backward regions will be closed and implementation of all the government schemes meant for socially and economically weaker sections will get affected.
On Monday, all public sector lenders, including SBI, requested the unions to reconsider their decision and refrain from participating in the strike in the interest of customers, investors, and banks.
UFBU is an umbrella body of nine unions — 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).
Other associations are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organization of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organization of Bank Officers (NOBO).
(With PTI inputs)