Mumbai: Banking operations across India were partially hit on Tuesday as 4 lakh employees of public sector banks, a few old generation private and foreign banks went on a one-day strike to protest the government's mega-merger plan and reduction in interest rates on deposits by banks.
In Maharashtra, 40,000 bank employees from around 10,000 branches of various banks were on strike. The one-day strike has been called by two bank employees unions- All India Banks Employees Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI).
In August, the government announced a plan to merge 10 public sector lenders into four to create fewer and stronger global-sized banks.
It had announced four new sets of mergers of state-run banks-- Punjab National Bank taking over Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India; Syndicate Bank merging with Canara Bank; Union Bank of India will amalgamate with Andhra
Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank will merge with Allahabad Bank.
"In this process (merger of 10 banks) the government is likely to close around 5,000 bank branches to enable small finance banks from the private sector to occupy the space and thus is privatise banking business," AIBEA said.
The union said the government is merging banks to serve the interests of big businesses who have looted these banks in the form of non-payment of loans.
The union further said on the one count the government is closing small banks while at the same time small finance banks in the private sector are being issued licenses and in the process banking business is being privatised.
Around 2,000 bank employees from Mumbai assembled at Azad Maidan and held demonstrations. The bank employees also observed 2 minutes silence for the six depositors of scam-hit PMC Bank who died last week.
Last month, officers' unions had called a two-day all India bank strike on September 26 and 27, which was later withdrawn following the government's intervention.