KOLKATA: Brace for a four-day bank closure — one of the longest such breaks in recent times — starting Saturday till Tuesday next week. The bank strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, if not called off in the next 72 hours, would result in closure of bank branches for four days (March 13-16) and ATMs for two days (March 16-17). This is because March 13 happens to be the second Saturday of the month and the strike call has been given for March 15 and 16.
Rajen Nagar, president of AIBEA, and general secretary of BPBEA, pointed out that this week and the next week would be marked as strike by financial sector employees nationwide.
According to him, on March 12, Bank of Maharastra will be closed in protest against the right to representation. “We have called two-day strike of all banks on March 15 and 16 and then there is a strike by employees of general insurance companies on March 17 and on March 18, LIC employees would observe one-day strike,” he added.
Nagar claimed that majority of the 8,214-odd branches of commercial banks would be closed in the state while a majority of around 12,000 ATMs, too, would be closed during the strike. “The Shiv Sena-backed bank union is also supporting our cause this time,” he added.
Ashok Mukherjee, the former deputy chief secretary of SBI Staff Association, pointed out that almost 90% of the bank employees would participate in the strike. “The customers may have to suffer during the strike,” he added.
According to Nagar, the proposed strike is against the privatisation of PSU banks and insurance companies. “Privatisation cannot be the solution. The main problem of the PSU banks is non-performing assets created due to big corporate houses. In the last eight years, total write off by 12 banks is Rs 6.3 lakh crore,” he added.
Commenting on the strike, Mukherjee said, “Time and again, we workers have found that the privatisation of a PSU has led to hundreds of workers getting thrown out of their jobs. Privatisation has also led to higher and higher use of contract workers who are employed at one-third to one-fourth the wages of regular workers. After privatisation, both permanent and contract workers are made to work longer hours without overtime.”