A man who runs a bakery on the city’s western fringes went to New Market to buy raw material for Christmas cakes on Friday.
The visit turned into an ordeal as every ATM he stopped by was “shut” because Friday was Day 2 of the nationwide bank strike, which had not spared the cash-dispensing units.
“Some shops deal only in cash. Almost every ATM I went to had its shutter half or full down,” said Tilak Deb, 32, who came from Budge Budge. He was able to withdraw cash from a private bank’s ATM.
Deb was among thousands who had a torrid time because of the closure of ATMs.
The strike is against the Centre’s move to privatise public sector banks and in demand of the withdrawal of Banking Laws (Amendments) Bill, 2021, listed for consideration in the current session of Parliament.
Like Thursday, most ATMs in the city were shut. It did not matter if they belonged to private banks.
The Telegraph was in Shyambazar in north Kolkata around 10.30am. None of the ATMs on Bhupen Bose Avenue was accessible.
Around 12.30pm, the Dalhousie-BBD Bag area was the centre of protest meetings and rallies. Employees of PSU banks shouted slogans near Tea Board.
Around 3pm, New Alipore was quieter. But the ATMs still had half-downed shutters.
“The strike was in public interest and has been a success. Most banks and ATMs were closed on Day 2 of the strike. Our view is that nationalised banks have played a pro-people role and should not be privatised. But we understand the problems of the people affected by the strike and express our apology for any inconvenience caused to bank customers,” said Rajen Nagar, general secretary, Bengal Provincial Bank Employees’ Association.
“We expect their support in our struggle. We are sacrificing our own wages in the strike. A few days are left in the Parliament session. If the government moves with the privatisation of public sector banks, we shall react with more strikes, including indefinite ones.”