This Article is From Mar 28, 2022

Nationwide Strike Hits Banking Operations, Transport Services

Public dealings at some bank branches were hit and transport services were affected as thousands of workers began a two-day nationwide strike

Nationwide Strike Hits Banking Operations, Transport Services

Bank branches and transport services were affected on first day of nationwide strike

New Delhi:

Public dealings at some bank branches were hit and public transport services were thrown out of gear in states like West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as thousands of workers on Monday began a two-day nationwide strike to protest against policies of the government.

However, essential services like healthcare, electricity and fuel supplies remained unaffected.

Public offices as well as educational institutions were not impacted by the strike called by nearly a dozen trade unions.

Some bank branches, particularly in cities with a strong trade union movement, did very limited over-the-counter public dealings such as cash deposits and withdrawals.

The joint forum of central trade unions, which has called for the two-day strike that started on Monday, said that bandh-like situation prevailed in at least eight states due to the nationwide strike against various policies of the government.

"There is a bandh-like situation in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Haryana and Jharkhand," the forum said in a statement.

According to the forum, agitations were held in many industrial areas across states like Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

In Maharashtra, volume data from clearing houses and cash replenishment at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) was not immediately available, though the striking employees claimed that they had a deep impact.

Workers staged protests at several places and unions claimed the agitation has had an impact in coal mining belts in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

The joint forum of central trade unions is protesting against the government policies affecting workers, farmers, and people.

Their demands include the scrapping of the labour codes, no privatisation in any form, scrapping of the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), increased allocation of wages under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and regularisation of contract workers.

In West Bengal, normal life was hit with protesters blocking roads and stopping movement of trains at some stations.

State road transport buses as well as auto-rickshaws and private buses were off the road in Kerala but essential services, including supply of milk, hospital and ambulance services were not affected.

Public transport services were hit in Haryana as employees of state roadways joined the strike.

Thousands of workers of state-owned SAIL, RINL and NMDC also joined the strike, affecting production at steel plants and mines.

Banking services were partially impacted on Monday as a section of bank employees did not report for duty.

However, there was hardly any impact on the functioning of new generation private sector banks. There might have been a delay in cheque clearances and government treasury operation might have also be affected by the strike.

The impact of the strike is prominent in eastern India as many branches of public sector banks there are closed, All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said.

In the other regions, branches are open as officers are present but services are being impacted due to many employees participating in the strike, he said.

Bank unions are protesting against the government's move to privatise two public sector banks as announced in Budget 2021-22.

They are also demanding an increase in interest rate on deposits and reduction in service charges.

The central trade unions that are part of this joint forum are INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC.

"The two-day nationwide strike by the joint forum of central trade unions has begun this morning and has got good response," Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), told PTI.

She said the entire coal belt (mining area) has been affected in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

According to her, there was a good response for the strike call in industrial areas of Assam, Haryana, Delhi, West Bengal, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Kaur claimed that banks and insurance sectors have been affected all over India while steel and oil sectors were also seeing partial impact due to the strike.

About 20 crore workers are expected to join the strike. The strike notices have been given by the unions in various sectors, including coal, steel, oil, telecom, postal, income tax, copper, banks, and insurance.

Bal Malkit Singh, Chairman of Core Committee of All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) said that as per the report received till now, the transportation of goods has not been affected by the strike.

AIMTC, the apex body for the truckers, has not given a strike call.

"Our trucks are running smoothly all over the country," he said.

"All supplies are normal. During the day, we have not received any feedback from any of the members across the country that there is any disruptions in the supply chain.... We are not part of the agitation," he said.

However, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the strike called by a joint forum of trade unions has been a "total flop" in the informal sector.

In a statement, it also claimed there was no impact visible even in various industrial areas where small industries are having manufacturing activities.

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