CHENNAI: Branches of banks all over Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, downed shutters on Tuesday, in response to a strike, called by the United Forum of Bank Unions demanding higher wages, which employees have been claiming since November 2012. `1,75,000 crore worth of cheques were left in limbo, unprocessed, at the Chennai Clearing House, according to the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).
The strike,announced early last month and confined to the Southern regions, is the first leg of a nationwide strike. Banks in the rest of the nation will follow suit in the next three days.
“Over 1,50,000 employees and officers participated in the strike and over 23,000 of the around 27,000 branches in the states of TN, Kerela, Karnataka, AP, Puducherry and Lakshwadeep were closed,” said C H Venkatachalam, general secretary of the AIBEA.
While widely publicised in the media, the strike managed to catch some customers flatfooted.
“I wanted to go to the bank early today morning and was surprised when I found it was closed. There was a white paper stuck on the gate which said that the bank won’t be open,” said Srilekha Ramamurthy of St. Thomas Mount.
The “white paper” was not an uncommon sight. Branches of public sector banks in the state displayed handwritten notifications or printed announcements and in some instances news-clippings of the strike.
“Reports have reached us from various centres like Kochi, Trivandrum, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mysore, Vijayawada, Vizag,
Coimbatore, Puducherry, Salem, Madurai, that clearing transactions were seriously affected,” said Venkatachalam.