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PSU bank strike: Banking services at state-own lenders affected

Operations at state-owned banks were severely hindered on the first day of the two-day all-India strike against the planned privatisation of two state-owned banks.

While payments were seamless because of the technology adoption, transactions that needed physical execution were affected.

Even some private sector banks were forced to shut down shutters in several parts of the country, especially in cities where union movement is stronger.

Bank employees across the country also took to the streets to oppose the government’s move. Bankers were also seen demonstrating protests at Azad Maidan of the country’s financial capital.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the Union Budget that two public sector banks would be privatised this financial year without giving specific names. LIC-owned IDBI Bank is also expected to be disinvested this fiscal.

The two-day nationwide strike starting December 16 was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella body of nine unions. Several public sector banks, including State Bank of India and Canara Bank had urged them to withdraw the strike.

The bank employees are also demanding withdrawal of the Banking Regulation (Amendments) Bill, 2021 which will enable the government to reduce their equity capital in the public sector banks below 51%. The Bill is listed for consideration in the ongoing Parliamentary Session.

Their counterparts at old-generation private sector banks and regional rural banks are also on strike. Employee unions from Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and Reserve Bank of India have extended their support to the protests.

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