29 July 2016
Banking operations across India were immobilised on Friday as about one million employees went on strike to protest government’s proposals to reform the industry, CH Venkatachalam, General-Secretary of the All-India Bank Employees Association, said from the southern city of Chennai.
Staff from 45 government, private and foreign banks participated in the strike, which was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella organisation representing nine unions of bank employees.
The forum opposes government’s proposals to consolidate public sector banks through mergers, allow more private and foreign capital into banks and issue new licences to corporations to start new banks.
Venkatachalam said: “the day-long strike was successful and affected work at nearly 80,000 branches across India.
“We oppose further privatisation of banking sector.
“For one, we want strong safety of people’s money, which will be vulnerable to risks with private banks taking more risks with their profit motive.’’
The general-secretary added that India’s banking sector was already beset with a huge number of bad loans.
“Besides, in a developing country like India, priorities are different; we want banking to be expanded and reach priority areas like loans for rural poor and loans for women.
“This will not be the lookout for private banks who will not venture to remote areas,’’ he added.
Industry body, Assocham, however, estimated customer transactions valued as much as 2.25 billion dollars could be affected by Friday’s strike.