"The response to our strike call is overwhelming, as all employees of 27 pubic sector banks and a dozen old generation private banks stayed away from work. We will continue the strike on Tuesday also," United Forum of Bank Unions' (UFBU) Karnataka general secretary A.N. Krishnamurthy told IANS in Bangalore.
UFBU is the umbrella organisation of five employee unions and four officers unions of state-run banks. All nine unions under its aegis have given the 48-hour strike call.
About 5,000 of the 15,000 employees of various banks in Bangalore staged a massive demonstration in front of State Bank of Mysore in the city centre against the government and the Indian Banks Association (IBA) for not agreeing to higher wages.
"Though we sought 30 percent increase in our salary keeping in view the soaring inflation and cost of living, the IBA has offered only 10 percent hike. We are ready to agree for at least 20 percent hike in our wages, which were not revised since November 2012," said Krishnamurthy.
Besides wage revision, the unions are also demanding suitable compensation for risk and responsibility that have increased in the banking sector due to competition and workload pressure.
"In the absence of overtime allowance, the IBA should regulate our working hours and make us work only five days a week on rotation as in the case of central government employees," All India Bank Employees Association general secretary K.P. Karanth said in an address to striking employees.
Rejecting the IBA demand to restrict the strike to a day, All India Bank Officers Confederation general secretary Y. Sudarshan said the employees would stage demonstrations in front of Canara Bank and Vijaya Bank in the city on Tuesday to press for their demands.
"There is no change in our two-day strike call. Employees of all public sector banks will stay away from work Tuesday too," he reiterated.
Though the strike had not affected cash withdrawals from the bank's ATMs kiosks across the city and state on Monday, Krishnamurthy said many ATMs may not function on Tuesday when they run out of cash and depositing additional cash was unlikely till early Wednesday.