The Telegraph
Monday , February 10 , 2014
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Cash-less scare

Bankers’ two-day strike from Monday demanding better wages could cripple financial transactions across the state for 48 hours.

United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of nine bank employees’ unions, has called the strike. Shutters of all the branches of 27 nationalised banks would be down. Cheque clearances, cash deposit and withdrawal at banks as well as transactions on automated teller machines (ATMs) would be hit because of the strike.

Like any other bandh, you and I would bear the brunt of the two-day bank shutdown. Ajay Kumar, a resident of Ashiana Nagar, would be one among them. He might end up paying penalty for the probable delay in paying his life insurance premium because of the strike.

“I have deposited a cheque for paying the LIC premium on Saturday assuming that it would be cleared by Monday or Tuesday. But now that the banks would be closed till Tuesday, my cheque would not be cleared before Thursday. The last date of paying the premium is Tuesday,” Ajay said.

ATMs would be open till the existing cash lasts in them. Thereafter, they would be of no use during the strike.

Ram Lala Singh, the deputy general secretary of Bihar Provincial Bank Employees’ Association, said the ATM kiosks would not be shut down but they would fast run out of cash. “Since all the bank employees would be on strike, no one would be available to refill the ATMs. Thus, machines could run out of cash depending on the withdrawals. Some ATMs might run out of cash on Sunday evening only because several people would withdraw money to ensure they have sufficient cash with them during the strike.”

On operations of the ATMs of private banks, Lala said: “Reserve Bank of India keeps its currency chest — the stock of cash — mostly with nationalised banks, from where the supply is made to the private banks. As the nationalised banks would remain closed, the cash supply to the ATMs of the private banks would remain suspended.”

While the shutters of the nationalised banks would be certainly down, private banks have not yet issued any official communication regarding their participation in the strike. Agitating employees usually shut them down, though. UFBU, the umbrella organisation of the unions, has given the strike call to press for two-fold demands — pending wage revision and non-implementation of bank reforms proposals, including privatisation, mergers, licences to corporate houses and outsource. Around 40,000 bank employees and officers of more than 4,000 branches of different banks in the state would join the strike.

UFBU state convener P.D. Singh told The Telegraph: “All branches of all nationalised banks in Bihar would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday on account of the nationwide bank strike called for the implementation of the pending wage revision and protesting the proposed reforms in the banking sector.”

Regarding the private sector banks, Singh said: “Most private banks do not close their branches during the strike but members of the unions move around the city in the morning and ask them to suspend transactions.”

The bank unions had gone on a daylong strike on December 18 last year following failure of talks over the proposed five-year wage revision package with Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) on December 14. The wage revision for public sector bank employees has been due since November 1, 2012. Originally, the two-day long nationwide bank strike was scheduled for January 20- 21. But it was deferred because IBA agreed on wage increase from five per cent to 9.5 per cent and made a commitment of further hike.

The bank employees’ unions called the strike afresh after IBA improved its offer by a meagre 0.5 per cent, raising the total hike to 10 per cent, in a meeting on January 27.

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