NEW DELHI: Banking services across the country were partially impacted on Thursday as some unions of public sector banks participated in a one-day nationwide strike called by central trade unions.
Operations such as cash deposit and withdrawal and cheque clearances were hit.
Bank unions claimed that in the clearing grids, about 20 lakh cheques worth about Rs 18,000 crore could not be sent for clearance due to the strike.
Even ATMs in some parts of the country went dry. However, the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) and private sector banks were functional.
The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) participated in the strike.
Another bank officers' union -- All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) -- did not participate but extended "fraternal support" to the strike, its General Secretary Soumya Datta said.
The unions have launched the nationwide protest against the proposed move of the government for privatisation of public sector banks, he added.
The recent report of the RBI's Internal Working Group on allowing large corporates to enter into the banking sector seems to be a sinister design to provide another opportunity to loot deposits of savers of the country, he added.
It is an open secret that the current problem of non-performing assets (NPAs) is because of fraud and fund diversion by corporates, he further said.
Ten central trade unions, except the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, observed the nationwide general strike to protest against various policies of the central government.
AIBEA, which has four lakh members from various public, private and some foreign banks, in a release claimed banking transactions were affected in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala and Bihar.
In Tamil Nadu, banks were closed in 16 districts as the government declared a holiday due to cyclone Nivar.
In Maharashtra, 30,000 bank employees joined the strike and demonstrated before their respective branches. In Mumbai, around 200 bank employees formed a human chain at Horniman Circle, Fort area.
Many lenders had intimated their customers in advance to use digital channels such as internet/ mobile banking and ATMs for their banking transactions. Bank employees protested against privatization of banks and outsourcing and contract system in jobs in the sector.
They also demanded adequate recruitment in the sector, stern action against big corporate defaulters, increase in rate of interest on bank deposits and reduction in service charges.
Unions in the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) also participated in the strike.
The 10 central unions, including the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC) and Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), called for the general strike against the new farm and labour laws, among others.