Cheni/Agartala/Bengaluru, Sept 1: Banking and insurance operations in India will come to a grinding halt on Wednesday with around half-a-million bankers going on strike in protest against the centre’s economic and labour policies, said union leaders.
“Across the country around 500,000 bankers-workers and officers- would be participating in the strike. Around 75,000 branches will not work tomorrow (Wednesday),” All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIEBA) general secretary C.H.Venkatachalam told IANS.
Employees of public sector/old private sector/cooperative and regiol rural banks will be taking part in the strike, he added.
However, employees of State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Overseas Bank are not participating in the strike.
The banking operations will be hit as cheques will not be sent for clearance. Even though scanned images of cheques are now sent for clearing instead of physical instrument, there will be one day delay in clearance, he said.
“There are increasing attacks on the rights and privileges of workers and concessions are being extended to the employers in our country,” Venkatachalam said.
“There are open attempts to amend labour laws in favour of the employers and to the detriment of the workers. The neo-liberal economic policies are only aggravating the problems of the workers and common masses,” he added.
Venkatachalam said in the banking sector, there are continuous attempts to push through the reforms agenda aimed at privatisation of banks, consolidation and merger of banks and others.
“More and more private capital and foreign direct investments are being encouraged. Private sector companies are being given licences to begin banking business,” he said.
According to him, Regiol Rural Banks are sought to be privatised and a bill has been passed in parliament despite protests from employee unions.
He said refilling of currency notes at automatic teller machines (ATM) by bank employees will also be affected.
“In those ATMs where refilling of currency note operation have been outsourced, the strike will impact them as well as the ATMs may go dry fast,” he added.
About 50,000 bank employees, including about 20,000 in Bengaluru are participating in the all-India shut down on Wednesday.
In Bengaluru, Bank Employees Federation of India (Kartaka chapter) general secretary Ratkar Shenoy told IANS that barring employees of a handful of new generation private and foreign bank branches, which have presence only in Bengaluru, all employees of state-run, regiol, rural and cooperative banks working in about 4,000 branches across the state will be on strike.
Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) Tripura unit general secretary Nikhil Das said that Wednesday’s bank strike would be total and successful in most of the northeastern states.
“The BEFI along with other bank unions has successfully observed last 36 all India bank strikes. Tomorrow’s (Wednesday) bank strike would be another successful agitation against the Bharatiya Jata Party-led central government’s anti worker policies,” Das told reporters in Agartala.
Wednesday’s 24-hours strike, called by 10 central trade unions in support of 12-point charter of demands, is likely to paralyse normal life in most of the Northeastern states, mostly ruled by Congress while Left parties are in power in Tripura and a regiol party in galand.
The BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) last week pulled out of the tionwide strike.
In the fincial services sector, employees of government-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and four non-life insurance companies would also be participating in the strike.
“Unions representing class 3 and 4 category of employees in LIC and the four non-life insurers have given the strike call,” J.Gurumurthy, vice president, All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA) told IANS.
“The strike is against the anti-labour and anti-trade union policies of the central government,” K. Govindan, joint secretary, General Insurance Employees’ All India Association (GIEAIA), told IANS.
According to him, the unions in the non-life insurance sector are demanding early conclusion of wage negotiations, filisation of the promotion policy and scrapping of outsourcing etc.
However associations representing the officers in LIC and the four government-owned non-life insurers are not participating in the strike.