MUMBAI: The all India bank strike against the merger of 10 public sector banks saw more than three lakh employees participate throughout the country has hit banking service across the country, General Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) C H Vekatachalam said.
Eastern part of the country saw virtually all the branches being closed, and in other states where the branches were open also had an impact on transactions according to AIBEA. More than 20 lakh instruments worth over Rs 15,000 crore were not collected due to the strike, it said.
Functioning of the ATMs, online transfers and remittances mitigated the all India bank strike, bankers to a great extent, officials at some of the public sector banks said. Except for rural and branches with fewer staff, there should may not have been a major impact on customers from Tuesday’s bank employees’ strike, the officials added. City branches to a greater extent have been able to keep their functions on, they further said.
AIBEA and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) had given a call for strike mainly to protest against the merger of ten public sector banks announced recently – they had termed consolidating 10 banks to 4 as shutting down 6 important nationalised banks.
“Merger is unwarranted in the present moment. Branches will be closed, services will be affected. Big banks will take big risk, giving big loans. There is no tangible benefit to banks, we have seen SBI merger, no tangible real problem is in bad loans, priority to recover. Now, the whole priority will shift to mergers, bad loan recovery will become the casualty,” Venkatachalam said.
He said the meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner in which the finance ministry officials also participated did not have any meeting points over the issue of merger ahead of the strike. Finance ministry officials had indicated that the merger is beneficial and any issues arising out of merger would be addressed after the merger, he said.
State Bank of India had last week said it expected minimal impact of the strike. In a filing with the stock exchanges it said, “the membership of our bank employees in unions participating in strike is very few, so the impact of strike on Banks operation will be minimal”.
According to the government plan, United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce are to be merged with Punjab National Bank, making the proposed entity the second largest public sector bank (PSB). Syndicate Bank is to be merged with Canara Bank, while Allahabad Bank will be merged with Indian Bank. Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will amalgamate with the Union Bank of India.