Banking services in the state have been hit as close to 60,000 bank employees from various public sector banks are on a two-day nationwide strike beginning Thursday, to protest against the government’s decision to privatise two more public sector banks, unions said.
Unions claimed that about nine lakh employees of state-run banks are observing strike across the country. The government had in Budget 2021-22, announced its intent to take up privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) during the year. The two-day strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), the 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).
UFBU’s Convenor (Maharashtra) Devidas Tuljapurkar said that public sector banks are on the forefront in implementing all government schemes, such as Jan-Dhan Yojana, social sector insurance scheme and Mudra schemes, meant for the economically and socially backward sections of the society. Privatisation may result in closure of bank branches in rural and backward areas, which may affect the implementation of various government schemes in these regions, Tuljapurkar added.
Apart from public sector banks, some employees from old generation private sector banks and regional rural banks are also on strike. Employee unions from Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) employees are also extending support to the strike, he said. He said bank employees right from sweeper to senior executive in scale 5 are observing the two-day strike. Tuljapurkar further said approximately 5,000 bank employees will demonstrate at Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Thursday.
Bank unions have decided to go on strike despite various public sector banks, including State Bank of India, Canara Bank, UCO Bank, Central Bank of India, urging them to withdraw the proposed strike and inviting them for further discussions. On Monday, SBI, in a statement, said it has requested the staff members to reconsider their decision and refrain from participating in the strike in the interest of our customers, investors, and banks. Considering the ongoing pandemic situation, resorting to a strike will cause great inconvenience to the stakeholders, SBI had said.