Banking services across the country are likely to be hit on Wednesday as several trade unions have called for a Bharat bandh, or an all-India shutdown, PTI reported.

Ten trade unions – Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre, Trade Union Coordination Centre, Self Employed Women’s Association, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Labour Progressive Federation and the United Trade Union Congress – have called for the nationwide strike along with various sectoral independent federations and associations.

The trade unions and associations had resolved last September to go on a strike on January 8, 2020 against the “anti-people” policies of the central government, The Indian Express reported. Various bank employee associations, including All India Bank Employees Association, All India Bank Officers’ Association, Bank Employees Federation of India, Indian National Bank Employees’ Federation, Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress and Bank Karmachari Sena Mahasangh, have agreed to join the strike.

Banking services like deposit and withdrawal, cheque clearing and instrument issuance, as well as ATM withdrawals, are likely to be impacted by the strike. While the strike will hit public sector banks, private sector banks may not be impacted.

Several banks have already informed the stock exchanges about the bandh. On January 3, the Indian Banks Association informed the State Bank of India about the strike, Mint reported.

In West Bengal, trade unions affiliated to Leftist parties called for a strike on Wednesday. However, the Trinamool Congress government said it will not support the strike.

“The [Union] Ministry of Labour has failed to assure on any of the demands of workers which called a meeting on January 2, 2020,” the 10 Central Trade Unions said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “The attitude of the government is that of contempt towards labour as we construe from its policies and actions.”

The unions said that 25 crore people are expected to take part in the bandh, and that this will be “followed by many more actions seeking reversal of the anti-worker, anti-people, anti-national policies of the government”.

The Centre has asked public sector banks to dissuade their employees from going on strike. It has also advised these institutions to devise a contingency plan to ensure smooth functioning of the enterprises.

Kerala’s Left Democratic Front government has also opposed the strike. “Any employee going on strike in any form, including protest, would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action,” a memorandum issued by the government said.

The proposed strike

Among the foremost grievances of the trade unions is the proposed Industrial Relations Code. While the government has said the code will simplify old and complex labour regulations, improve the business environment and spur employment, unions have called the related bill “anti-worker” for allowing employers to hire and fire workers more easily, arguing that it has no safeguards for workers, makes it harder for workers to negotiate better terms and wages with employers, and makes strikes more difficult.

The Industrial Relations Code Bill is part of wider government efforts to streamline and simplify the plethora of existing and overlapping labour laws by creating four labour codes – each on wages, industrial relations, social security and occupational safety, health and working conditions.