All PSBs, majority private banks, insurance firms strike work

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) Financial services in the northern region were hit hard on Wednesday as an estimated half a million bank and insurance employees across the country joined a one-day strike to protest against the anti-trade union and worker policies of the central government.

“All public sector banks in the national capital and the majority of private banks observed a complete strike today (Wednesday) in support of our charter of demands,” general secretary for Delhi region of the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIEBA) J.P. Sharma told IANS.

He said financial sector employees had held demonstrations in various parts of the capital.

“Banks and insurance company employees gathered in solidarity with other striking unions at the Life Insurance Corporation’s offices at Jeevan Bharti building, where they were addressed by veteran leader Gurudas Dasgupta from the All India Trade Union Congress,” Sharma added.

Fourteen unions in the banking sector had given a call for Wednesday’s strike, that occured in parallel with the strike called by central trade unions, protesting against NDA government’s proposed Bills amending labour laws, the Contract Act, the Electricity Act and Factory Act.

“The strike has begun very successfully with private banks, all 52 regional rural banks plus apex and district banks joining the strike,” C.H. Venkatachalam, AIBEA general secretary told IANS.

“Besides, employees of the Reserve Bank of India and other important banks like IDBI, Nabard have joined the strike,” he said.

“Except the State Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank, all other banks have joined the strike. Kotak Bank is on strike,” he added.

Unions in the non-life insurance sector were demanding early conclusion of wage negotiations, finalisation of the promotion policy and scrapping of outsourcing, among other demands.

Transport unions of the country also struck work on Tuesday over the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill. “We held joint rallies with employees in other sectors who are also striking,” Venkatachalam said.

He said in the banking sector, there are continuous attempts to push through the reforms agenda aimed at privatisation of banks, consolidation and merger of banks and others.

“More and more private capital and foreign direct investments are being encouraged. Private sector companies are being given licences to begin banking business,” he said.

Last month, the All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) said it had launched a new wing called the Private Sector Bank Officers’ Forum which would also join Wednesday’s all-India general strike.

“The growing concern of the existing workforce is hovering around host of issues viz. Contractualisation of permanent jobs, compulsory conversion of Scale III officers under C2C concept, the outsourcing of banking functions, discrimination in performance linked bonus, non recruitment of staff against permanent vacancies, tax exemption in the matter pension,” the AIBOA said in a statement in Mumbai.

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