| The State Bank of India ATM remains closed during the strike in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Banking services were affected across the state during the daylong nationwide bank strike on Wednesday.
Cheque clearances, depositing and withdrawing the money from bank branches, especially from ATMs, were badly hit because of the strike. United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of nine bank unions, had called the strike.
The UFBU went on a strike to press for two-fold demands of wage revision and protesting against the bank reforms that included privatisation, mergers, licences to corporate houses, outsourcing, appointment on compassionate ground etc.
Around 40,000 bank employees and officers of more than 4,000 branches of various banks of Bihar had joined the strike. Around 2,500 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of various banks across the state remained out of bounds for the common man as agitating employees forcefully shut down the ATMs and branches of both public and private sector banks.
The banking unions claimed the strike was cent per cent successful.
UFBU state convener P.D. Singh told The Telegraph: “The strike, which was 200 per cent successful, badly hit the banking operations, hampering around Rs 1,000 crore business transaction in the state.”
Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) held discussions with the UFBU on December 14 on wage revision, Singh said, adding that the IBA offered a hike of five per cent over the wage expenses.
Similar offer of five per cent wage hike was offered by chief labour commissioner, Delhi, during the meeting on December 16, Singh said. He added: “The offer of five per cent hike is nothing but a joke and a humiliating one. Hence, the UFBU decided to go ahead with the strike.”
Bank Employees’ Federation of India state general secretary B. Prasad said: “Even private banks such as ICICI, Axis, HSBC, HDFC, Kotak downed their shutters on our request. We are also demanding that private banks should be nationalised. ATMs did not function at all.”
Amid all these the common man suffered.
Mukesh Kumar, a businessman and a resident of Rajeev Nagar, said: “I had to deposit a cheque for my LIC. Earlier, I could not do so because I thought I would withdraw money from Axis Bank ATM located in my colony but even that went dry. Now, I have to do it on Thursday.”