Banking services may be affected as employees strike

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New Delhi (IANS) Bank customers may face hardships with services as several bank branches and ATMs could be affected on Wednesday as bank employees have threatened to go on a day-long strike.

The strike call of five bank employee unions is part of a 'Bharat Bandh' call given by 10 central trade unions. Bank unions are joining the strike to protest against banking reforms and mega-merger of PSU banks.

They are also demanding a pay hike besides a uniform five-day week. Ten central trade unions -- INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC -- are expecting that around 25 crore people will join their nationwide strike call in protest against the economic policies of the government. Banking services at branches and ATMs could be hit at several places because of the strike.

The All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) has issued a circular asking members to not demand nor accept any keys on Wednesday. They have also been asked to not perform any clerical duties and join the protest.

India's largest lender, the State Bank of India (SBI), however expects little impact on its operations. The lender has announced that since only a few of its employees are part of the striking unions, the impact on its operations will be minimal.

"The membership of our bank employees in unions participating in the strike is very few, so the impact of the strike on banks operation will be minimal," SBI has told stock exchanges. Another public sector lender, Bank of Baroda, which is the third-largest bank in India, fears that its operations could be affected.

In a regulatory filing, the bank stated, "The bank is taking necessary steps for smooth functioning of bank's branches/offices on the day of the strike in the event the strike materialises, the functioning of the branches/offices may be affected/paralysed."

Syndicate Bank has issued a public notice asking customers to bear with them and make transactions before the bank strike on January 8. It is to be noted that PSU banks are likely to be among the most affected by the strike.

AIBEA, All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF) and Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC) had jointly issued a circular last month on the decision to join the nationwide general strike called by trade unions.

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