Bandh affects banks partially

New Delhi/Mumbai: Operations in public sector banks were partially affected due to the day-long strike called by a section of bank unions to protest against outsourcing of non-core activities to private sector, among other things. Most of the PSU bank branches in major cities were open, but the attendance remained thin as majority of clerical staff abstained from work.

Although the PSU bank unions claimed that operations were badly hit with employees going on strike, the managements maintained that only some clerical staff did not report on duty. The strike by bank employees is part of the one-day all- India general strike, called by major central trade unions.

The bank unions are also protesting against unilateral imposition of Khandelwal Committee recommendations with regard to human resources issues and outsourcing of jobs. Their demand also include enactment of stringent and effective measures to recover bad loans.

State Bank of India`s Deputy General Manager R Dipankar Basu said while branch operations have been partially hit as clerical staff are not attending office, officers are present in full strength. When asked about the impact on business, he said it is too early to say anything.

All-India Bank Employees Association convenor C H Venkatachalm, however, termed the impact of the strike "a complete success as clearing houses remained totally paralysed" with unions of Reserve Bank and SBI participating in the strike. "We thank all the unions for their full participation and making it a grand success," Venkatachalam told PTI over phone from Chennai, in the middle of a protest rally.
Leading private sector banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank are not participating in the strike. Similarly, new generation public sector bank IDBI Bank too said its not impacted as employees are not unionised. However, unions at the old generation private sector lenders are into strike.

"The shutdown in the banking and financial sector has been complete. The RBI`s clearing houses are shut. So the private and foreign banks where we do not a have a presence, also get affected," General Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association, Vishwas Utagi claimed.

A spokesperson of the Mangalore-based Corporation Bank said its operations have been partially affected as the major officers union is not participating in the strike.

The country`s largest financial powerhouse LIC said all the offices and branches in the city are open and most of the staff are present. "The development officers in the Western and Northcentral zones have given a call not to join the strike. There are some pockets and zones where there have been reports of employees joining the strike. The exact picture will be known only after 4 pm," LIC executive director for marketing S Roy Chowdhury told PTI.

The Union Bank of India said its business as usual as only a few branches have downed their shutters initially but have soon been reopened. Most branches of Bank of India and Canara Bank remained open though the attendance was thin with clerical staff not reporting for work.

An official from the New India Assurance Company also said there has not been much impact on operations, saying "the branches are working pretty normal as there is over 60 per cent attendance from across the spectrum". The company has sought police support and till noon there has not any disruption of work, he added.