The United Forum of Bank Union (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, has called for a two-day nationwide strike on March 15 and 16 against the privatisation of Public Sector Banks and regressive banking reforms.
More than 10 lakh bank employees and officers are likely to participate in the strike which will disrupt banking services across the country, reported NDTV.
The call for a two-day strike comes days after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union budget where she announced the privatisation of two public sector banks as part of the government's disinvestment drive to create ₹ 1.75 lakh crore.
All nine banks unions - All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers' Congress (INBOC) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) will be a part of the two-day strike.
Services such as deposits and withdrawal at branches, cheque clearance, and loan approvals are likely to be affected due to the strike.
Banks were already closed on March 13 (second Saturday) and March 14 (Sunday), leading to a four-day hit in regular banking operations.
Many public sector lenders- the State Bank of India (SBI), Canara Bank and others have informed their customers that their normal working could be affected due to the strike.
Apart from bank unions, all the unions in four General Insurance Companies will go on strike on March 17. All the unions in LIC will be on strike on March 18, while unions of four insurance companies have called for a protest against the privatisation of public companies.
Meanwhile, services of private banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank are expected to remain normal.
Reacting to the call for a strike, ex-RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, on March 14, said, "I think it would be a colossal mistake to sell the banks to industrial houses." He said that it will be politically infeasible to sell any decent-sized bank to foreign banks.
Rajan said that while the 2021-22 Budget has placed a lot of weight on privatisation, the history of the government delivering on this is checkered.