New Delhi: Several ATMs ran out of cash causing hardship to common-man on the second day of the two- day strike which was called by the PSU bank unions to protest against reforms and outsourcing of non-core activities.
Although the new-generation private sector banks like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank functioned normally, clearing and fund transfer operations suffered on account of the strike.
Normal banking operations, including cash transactions, cheque clearances, foreign exchange dealings were affected. The ATMs, which functioned normally on the first day of the strike, ran out of cash today hampering day-to-day activities.
"The strike was successful as all members went on protest on a wage cut. Government should come forward and discuss with us. The unions will be meeting shortly to talk on future course of action," All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said.
The AIBEA said banking transactions have been affected in more than 70,000 branches across the country as around 10 lakh employees and officers participated in the strike.
"ATMs have run dry as the banks have not been able to refill them with cash," Venkatachalam said.
State bank of India (SBI) Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri said that the banking sector had incurred huge losses because of the strike. Employees of 24 public sector banks (PSBs) and 12 private banks participated in the strike.
Unions are protesting against reform measures such as the Banking Sector Laws Amendment Bill which seeks to remove restrictions on voting rights of foreign shareholders and increase voting rights of private investors in the PSBs.
Bank unions have been demanding pension revision, housing loan revision, 5-day working week and human resource related issues, among others.
The impact of the bank strike was felt in the towns and state capitals as well. In the eastern states the banks wore a deserted look, and all over the country banking operations were paralysed.
As per estimates of the unions, the loss to the national economy on account of the 2-day strike could be around Rs 30,000 crore.
Fund flows to the stock market were also affected as clearing operations were hampered. Scrips of PSU banks saw some pressure today, even as banking sector scrips ended mostly flat. Also trading in the forex market was dull as the major player SBI did not participate.
Unions went ahead with the strike after reconciliatory talks between them and the government failed on Tuesday. The Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011 is before Parliament and is likely to be taken up in the current session.