The two-day bank employees strike opposing the Union government’s efforts to privatise the banking sector received good response across the seven districts of the Kalyana Karnataka region on the first day on Monday.
The strike call was given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), a conglomerate of All India Bank Employees Association, All India Bank Officers Confederation, National Confederation of Bank Employees, All India Bank Officers Association, Bank Employees Federation of India, Indian National Bank Employees Federation, Indian National Bank Officers Congress, National Organisation of Bank Workers and National Organisation of Bank Officers.
Employees of all the major nationalised banks, including State Bank of India, Canara Bank, Corporation Bank (now Union Bank of India), Karnataka Bank and Bank of Baroda, participated in the strike by not reporting for duty forcing the banks to close their operations.
People, who were unaware of the strike, were found going through difficulties in transacting their banking tasks.
Though regular activities in almost all branches of nationalised banks in the region were disrupted, most of their ATMs functioned as usual. However, in some places, the machines had been rendered “out of order” due to unavailability of money. Private banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank functioned as usual.
Hundreds of agitating employees staged demonstrations and agitations across the cities and towns in the region holding placards and banners opposing the Union government’s move.
“The very purpose of establishing State-owned banks and nationalising private banks was to collect savings from the maximum number of people and distribute it among the maximum number of producers. Privatising banks essentially means collecting money from the maximum number of people and distributing it among a few big corporate houses. Banks without State control tend to collapse due to greed of a few and inflict irreversible damage on depositors. Already, 550 private banks have collapsed and most of the depositors have lost most of their savings. Privatisation of the banking sector would thus lead to the collapse of the banking sector and, in turn, the collapse of the economy,” a leader addressing the agitators outside a Canara Bank branch in the Supermarket area in Kalaburagi said.
Many leaders who spoke on the occasion strongly criticised the Union government for its “disinterest” in strengthening the public sector while showing enthusiasm in selling government banks that were doing well to private players.
“Banks in the public sector in India have never faced a serious crisis. When the big banks in the United States, Europe and other advanced regions were stuck in massive crisis due to economic recession, Indian banks remained unaffected. It is the government’s responsibility to strengthen the public sector banks when they face a crisis. There are a number of global examples of how the State has intervened by giving a large amount of money from its Exchequers to save the public sector banks in distress. In India, the government is going to sell the profit-making public sector banks to private players instead of further strengthening them,” another leader said.