Hyderabad, Dec 16 (IANS) Banking operations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh came to a halt on Thursday as employees of public sector banks stayed away from work on Day 1 of the two-day strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).
The strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) to protest against the government's decision to privatise two more public sector banks.
In Telangana, about 50,000 officers and employees of private sector banks joined the strike, paralysing the banking services. Almost an equal number of employees struck the work in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
UFBU Telangana unit leader R. Sriram said all the banking services, including transactions and clearing of cheques came to a standstill due to the strike.
However, ATMs of the banks were not affected as the banks had taken measures to replenish them in view of the strike.
Opposing the government's plans to privatise the public sector banks, employees staged a protest at the State Bank of India at Koti in Hyderabad. Leaders of various bank unions led the protest.
The protesters raised slogans demanding the government to drop the privatisation move. They were carrying placards which read 'Privatisation is abandoning social banking, It's anti-people', 'Strengthen public sector banks, do not privatise them' and 'Stop privatisation of banks'.
Sriram said they had to go on strike as a last resort as the government failed to give an assurance that Banking Laws Amendment Bill, 2021 would not be tabled during the ongoing session of Parliament.
He said the government's stand that public sector banks are inefficient and hence they need to be privatisatised is not correct as the banks have been playing a key role in the country's economic development since 1969. He claimed that there are many instances of private banks collapsing due to inefficiency while not a single public sector bank has collapsed.
Another UFBU leader Nageshwar Rao said the privatisation of banks would not only affect the employees but would also harm the interests of the common man. "Public sector banks are playing a key role in the economic development of the country and in implementation of various government schemes. We as the employees have immense job satisfaction of making some contribution to the national development," he said.