Banking operations have been hit as public sector bank employees went on a one-day nationwide strike today to protest the government's proposed consolidation move, besides raising other demands. The strike has been called by unions under the aegis of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, including All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW). Indian Banks' Association, an industry body, has asked banks to take measures in advance to minimise the impact of the strike.
As many as 21 public sector banks control 75 per cent of the total business. Cheque clearances, NEFT/RTGS transactions as well as deposits/withdrawals at branches of public sector banks will be affected. However, online banking transactions will not be impacted, sources said. Operations at private sector lenders such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are expected to be normal except delay in cheque clearances. Besides opposing the government's consolidation move, other demands of unions include a no write-off policy for non-performing assets (NPAs) of corporate loans and declaration of wilful default of loans as a criminal offence, DevidasTuljapurkarconvenor, UFUB (MS) said. A top union leader said the government should provide overtime for additional work during demonetisation. He also suggested that banks should not pass on the burden of corporate NPAs to bank customers by hiking charges. However, the critical operations of public sector banks like data centres will remain open to facilitate online transactions, the banking executive added.