Economy to take 'Rs 15,000-20,000 crore hit' from trade union strike: Assocham

India's gross domestic product (GDP) will take a hit of Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore should the central trade unions proceed with their two-day strike starting tomorrow (February 20-21), industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has said, appealing to the trade unions to call off their strike.

Services at 27 state-owned banks, including State Bank of India and its associate banks, as well as 12 foreign banks will be hit. There will be no cash refilling at automated teller machines.

According to Assocham, states like West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka and parts of Uttar Pradesh are likely to be impacted.

The chamber is concerned that cargo operations, both at airport and ports, will also be affected.

Eleven unions, demanding wage revision and opposing banking reforms, will participate in the strike. While the Indian Banks' Association has asked the unions for a meeting to discuss wage revision on February 22, the Finance Ministry has appealed to the unions to call off the strike.

"The national economy, battling a slowdown, can ill-afford this situation. In fact, the strike will aggravate the price situation because of a disruption in the supply of essential commodities," Assocham president Rajkumar Dhoot said in a press release.

"Given the nature of the strike and the involvement of all the five major central trade unions, it is going to largely affect the services sector, including banking, financial services, tourism and transportation, all of which are major contributors to the country's GDP," Mr Dhoot added in the statement.

Assocham has estimated the national loss figures based on daily erosion of about 30-40 per cent in the country's gross domestic product from the past two days.

Therefore, the loss figure is at Rs 26,000 crore per day and Rs 52,000 crore for two days. The strike is likely to take its toll on at least 30-40 per cent i.e. Rs 15,000 - 20,000 crore.

While the Confederation of Indian Industries has said the strike will be destructive, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said the strike will not help address the concerns raised by the unions.

As per the advanced estimates of the Central Statistical Office, the GDP for the current financial year is projected at about Rs 95 lakh crore.

Expressing concerns over the impending strike, the Assocham president said it would not be in the interest of the country's economy to stop work in the crucial sectors. "

As per the industry body's estimates, Indian industry has not "really resorted to job trimming and has generally been working in partnership with the labour-force" despite the global slowdown and difficult domestic economic conditions.

Mr Dhoot has requested the leaders of the central unions, including CITU, AITUC, INTUC and BMS, to reconsider their decision, saying, "We need to work together to resolve the issue...The workers' role in this area too is of paramount importance." He has also also appealed to the government to immediately hold talks with the unions to arrive at amicable solutions to the issues raised by the unions.

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