Banking transactions across India were severely affected Wednesday as employees of most public sector banks and some private and foreign banks went on a two-day strike, protesting reforms in the sector and outsourcing of non-core services among other things.
The strike in 27 public sector, 12 private banks and eight foreign banks also affected the equities, bond and foreign exchange markets.
The All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said over a million employees joined the strike after talks with the union labour commissioner in New Delhi Tuesday failed.
"The strike has been a success all over the country. Banking services have been affected and paralysed," AIBEA General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam said in a statement.
Reports indicated that the strike had its maximum impact in Karnataka, West Bengal and the northeast.
"The strike call received an overwhelming response as over 50,000 employees and officers abstained from work across the state in support of our long-pending demands, especially fresh recruitments and promotions," United Forum of Banks Unions (UFBU) Karnataka convener B.S. Ravindra told IANS in Bangalore.
The strike coincided with the government move to take up the Banking Laws Amendment Bill, 2011, Thursday, which contains provisions such as raising shareholders' voting rights from 10 percent to 26 percent in private banks and supersession of bank boards.
The forum further said that the outcome of the proposed bill will translate into closure of rural bank branches and lead to opening of ultra-small branches, thereby privatising rural banking operations through contractual business.
The bank employees are also opposing outsourcing of non-core services to outside agencies and other "anti-labour" policies which they said would jeopardise jobs in the banking sector and undermine collective bargaining strength of the employees.