Banks were already closed on March 13 (second Saturday) and March 14 (Sunday), leading to a four-day break till Tuesday in regular banking operations.
Who is organizing the strike
The strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions.
The unions participating in the strike are: All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress (INBOC) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).
Employees sit on a strike outside a bank in Mumbai. Insurance companies will also go on a strike this week.
Apart from bank unions, all the unions in four General Insurance Companies will be on strike on March 17.
All the unions in LIC are on strike on March 18, while unions of four insurance companies have called for a strike against the privatisation of public companies.
Private banks open
Branches of private-sector lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are open as they are not part of the strike.
Bank services hit
Services such as deposits and withdrawal at branches, cheque clearance, and loan approvals likely to be affected due to the strike. However, ATMs are likely to remain functional.
Many public sector lenders, including the State Bank of India (SBI), had informed their customers that their normal working could be affected at the branches and offices if the strike materialises.
While several services have been hit, ATMs are likely to remain operational.
Banks said that they are taking necessary steps for the smooth functioning of bank branches and offices.
Money markets and stock markets are also going to face problems as payments would be impacted.
Why are bank unions protesting
In the Union Budget presented last month, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (PSBs) as part of the government’s disinvestment plan to generate Rs 1.75 lakh crore.
The government has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and has merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years.
Conciliation meetings – before the Additional Chief Labour Commissioner on March 4, 9 and 10 – did not yield any positive result, so the strike stands, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) general secretary C H Venkatachalam said.
(With inputs from agencies)