Two Day Staff Strike To Hit Banks Today
New Delhi: As employees of various public sector banks prepare to go on strike on Monday and Tuesday over the Centre’s decision to privatise two state-owned lenders, banking services are likely to be hit across the country.
Banks were already closed on March 13 (second Saturday) and March 14 (Sunday), leading to a four-day break in regular banking operations. Services such as deposits and withdrawal at branches, cheque clearance and loan approvals would be affected due to the strike. However, ATMs are likely to remain functional.
Private banks, like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank, will be functioning normally, but these account for only one-third of banking services in the country.
The strike, called by The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, comes after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union Budget 2021-22 announcement where she announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (apart from IDBI Bank) as part of the government’s disinvestment drive to generate Rs 1.75 lakh crore.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake to the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) in 2019 and merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.
The government had said that privatisation of two public sector banks will set the ball rolling for a long-term project that envisages only a handful of state-owned banks, with the rest either consolidated with strong banks or privatised.
This will also free up the government, the majority owner, from continuing to provide equity support to the banks year after year.