Bank strike hits customer services in Karnataka
Bangalore, Aug 23 (IANS) Customer services in both state-run and private banks across Karnataka were severely affected for the second consecutive day Thursday as thousands of their employees and officers held demonstrations and protest rallies to press for their demands.
"The two-day strike is a complete success as employees and officers of all public sector banks and a dozen old-generation private banks participated in demonstrations and protest rallies held in cities and towns across the state. We will resort to strike again till the government accepts our demands," All India Bank Officers' Confederation general secretary Y. Sudarshan told IANS here.
With banking operations paralysed for the second day, millions of customers, including commercial organisations and government agencies could not transact any business, as clearing of cheques and other instruments remained suspended.
"Though we have allowed banks to ensure availability of cash to retail customers through their automatic teller machines (ATMs) across the state, there are reports of some ATMs running out of cash for withdrawal," Sudarshan admitted.
In Bangalore, the biggest demonstration was held at the local head office of the State Bank of India (SBI) in the city centre where about 2,000 employees and officers assembled to protest and resolve to fight till their demands are met.
"We hope managements of all banks and the government will meet our demands and address our concerns in the interests of customers and the industry as services are suffering due to several vacancies and lack of promotional avenues to employees and officers," United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) convener B.S. Ravindra said.
The forum is an umbrella organisation of nine major employees' unions and four officers' unions of state-run banks across the country with a million members.
"Our main demand is to stop unilateral implementation of the A.K. Khandelwal Committee recommendations, which led to freezing recruitments and denial of promotions to thousands of employees and officers at various cadres," Ravindra said.
The government-constituted committee on human resources (HR) issues of state-run banks submitted its report in June 24, 2010, with 105 recommendations on manpower and recruitment planning, training, posting, promotion, wages, services conditions and welfare.
"We are also opposing the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, due to be introduced in the current monsoon session of parliament, as it will lead to de-nationalisation of state-run banks and merger of banks, especially of State Bank of India with its associate banks," Ravindra said.
Other demands include stopping arbitrary guidelines on HR issues, outsourcing of bank jobs, banking sector reforms and closure of rural branches.
"The strike has severely affected our business as we are not able to withdraw cash or deposit our daily collection, including cheques in the bank. The strike should have been a day than two consecutive days in the midweek. They should be considerate and sensitive to our concerns as our transactions have stopped," a private company manager lamented.
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