Bank strike paralyses operations; Bengal, Kerala, Bihar among worst hit

Banking operations in the country remained paralysed on the first day of the two-day nationwide bank strike on Wednesday. Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand were worst hit by the protest.

Unions in West Bengal claimed total response to the agitation and struck work on Wednesday. All bank branches and ATMs remained closed in Kolkata.  However, a few ATMs were forced open by a political party in a few places in the districts.

Similar effect were seen in other states as well. In Kerala, about 30,000 employees and officers participated in the strike, paralysing functioning of 5,200 branches in the state. In the state capital, as part of the agitation, employees took out a march from Fine Arts College at Palayam to State Bank of India's city branch near the Secretariat.

In Mumbai, bank employees took out a protest march from the P M Road in Fort area of south Mumbai, very close to the central bank headquarters which also has a high concentration of bank branches, to the Azad Maidan.

"Around 60,000 bank employees and officers in Maharashtra dealing with Rs 40 trillion of business are on strike," United Forum of Bank Unions convener (Maharashtra) Devidas Tuljapurkar said on Wednesday.

For Mumbai, the number stands at 25,000 staffers in 4,000 bank branches, dealing in Rs 30 trillion of business, he said.

Overall, banking transactions worth about Rs 217 billion could not be put into effect across the country.

Operations like deposits, FD renewals, government treasury operations, money market operations were hit by the strike.

An RBI official said some digital banking work was done through electronic systems like the RTGS but the functioning of banks' servers was hit.

Digital banking comprises about 5 per cent of the total operations, the official said.

Reserve Bank of India remained operational though even as RBI trade unions offered moral support for the ongoing strike, a RBI trade union leader said.

Nearly 1 million employees working in various public sector banks, old generation private sector banks, six foreign banks and regional rural banks across the country went on strike demanding early wage review and sufficient increase in salary among others.

The Indian Bank Association (IBA) has proposed a two per cent revision in wages for the employees of the public sector banks which the unions have refused to accept.

In the last wage revision in 2012, the bank employees got a rise of 15 per cent.

With agency inputs

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