Banking services were paralysed for a second straight day Thursday as almost one million employees of public and private sector banks struck work protesting against proposed reforms in the sector and outsourcing of jobs, union leaders said.
“The strike is totally successful across the country. Nearly one million employees are on strike,” said Pradip Biswas, general secretary of the powerful Bank Employees Federation of India.
“Most ATMs are also not working because there is no feeding of cash. Securities staffs deployed at ATMs are also on strike,” Biswas told.
The two-day strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions opposing the proposed banking reforms, especially the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill and implementation of Khandelwal Committee recommendations.
Among those backing the strike are the Bank Employees Federation of India, National Confederation of Bank Employees, All India Bank Officers Association, Indian National Bank Employees Federation, Indian National Bank Officers Congress, National Organisation of Bank Workers, All India Bank Employees Association and All India Bank Officers Confederation.
“Almost all the bank branches, except regional rural banks (RRBs) and cooperative banks, remained closed for the second day,” Gautam Bose of the United Forum of Bank Unions told IANS in Kolkata.
The ATMs of most public as well as private sector banks in the state were closed Thursday.
The strikers are opposing the outsourcing of non-core services to outside agencies and other “anti-labour” policies which they say will jeopardise jobs in the banking sector and undermine collective bargaining strength of the employees.
The Banking Laws Amendment Bill, 2011, which is to come up for approval in parliament, contains provisions such as raising shareholders’ voting rights from 10 percent to 26 percent in private banks and supersession of bank boards.
Employee unions are also opposing the implementation of Khandelwal Committee recommendations on human resources issues. The panel recommends outsourcing of jobs and closure of many rural branches.
Other demands of the strikers include pension revision, five-day working week, housing loan revision and filling up vacant positions.