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Vikash Sharma

Banking services in Odisha were partially affected as public sector bank employees across the State joined the two-day nationwide strike against the Centre’s move to privatise several banks.

The strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), which is an umbrella body of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).

“The SBI service charges are minimal whereas it is high in private banks. The customers will suffer more if the public sector banks are privatised. Our strike is for the public and we seek their support in our protest against privatisation,” said a bank employee in Cuttack

Pawan Kumar, Zonal Secretary SBI Staff Association (Jeypore) said, “Today, the BPL category population is still high and they cannot afford minimum balance charges even though they are dependent on banks to avail various schemes including DBTs.”

Rohit Kumar Satpathy, Convenor United Forum of Bank Union (Bolangir) said, “The Centre wants to privatise for the benefit of some corporates and their concern is only to make profits. We will intensify our protest and force government to roll back its decision.”

Meanwhile, the customers and citizens at large have been hassled due to the strike.“The ATMs are running dry and the banks are closed. We had no prior information about the strike. I am facing problems as I have been running from one ATM to other to withdraw cash,” said a customer.

C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) said that the two-day strike announced by the unions in the banking sector will continue as no assurance has been given on deferring the introduction of Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the Parliament.

Earlier on December 13, the State Bank of India (SBI) in a tweet had appealed its staff to reconsider their decision from participating in the proposed strike in the interest of the customers, investors and the Bank stating that it will cause great inconvenience to the stakeholders considering the pandemic situation.

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