State-owned banks were closed on Wednesday due to a nationwide strike called by unions against the proposed merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with the Bank of Baroda, PTI reported. The government had announced in September that the entities would be merged to create India’s third-largest bank.
Most banks had already informed customers about the strike. Around one lakh branches and offices of 21 public sector banks were closed and 10 lakh employees joined the strike, the United Forum of Bank Unions said, claiming that the strike was a “total success”, reported The Hindu BusinessLine. Private sector banks functioned as usual on Wednesday.
The United Forum of Bank Unions, which organised the strike, is an umbrella organisation of nine unions, including the All India Bank Officers Confederation, the All India Bank Employees’ Association, National Confederation of Bank Employees, and the National Organisation of Bank Workers.
All India Bank Employees’ Association General Secretary CH Venkatachalam said the unions had given the strike call after a conciliation meeting called by the additional chief labour commissioner had failed to provide any assurances. Neither the government nor the concerned banks came forward to assure employees that the merger will be halted, he added.
The unions claim that although the aim of such mergers is to expand banks, a joint entity will still fail to find a place among the top 10 global institutions even if the central government were to combine all public sector banks.
“This merger will see a large number of branches being closed and customers will have to face hardships as already banks are burdened with the implementation of various government schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra, social security insurance, and Prime Minister’s housing scheme, among others,” the United Forum of Bank Unions said, according to Huffington Post.
National Organisation of Bank Workers Vice-President Ashwani Rana said that banks were due to revise wages in November 2017 and so far, the Indian Banks’ Association has offered an 8% hike, which is not acceptable to the United Forum of Bank Unions.
This is the second bank strike in less than a week. On December 21, an officers’ union of state-run banks had called a day-long strike to protest against this merger and had demanded an immediate settlement of wage negotiations.