Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday asked bank unions to desist from resorting to protest strikes, stating that such actions were not desirable in an important industry such as banking.
The Finance Minister’s advice came on a day when over five lakh bank employees and officers went on protest strike, paralysing banking operations in many parts of the country.
However, about three lakh employees of the SBI Group did not participate in the strike, it was learnt.
While the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) claimed that the strike action was a “total success”, Chidambaram sought to play down its impact. He pointed out that banks were open during working hours and 46 per cent of employees reported to work.
It is only in the North East and Eastern India — which are economically deprived — where banking operations were affected, he said.
There is no longer any great public sympathy for such strikes, Chidambaram told Rajya Sabha in his reply to the discussions on Banking Laws (amendment) Bill 2011. “I think any matter can be talked out. We are open to talks”, he added.
Meanwhile, AIBEA General Secretary C.H.Venkatachalam said the strike was called to protest against the Government’s attempts to rush the banking law amendments.
Interestingly, Parliament on Thursday evening gave its nod for the Banking Laws (amendment) Bill, with the Rajya Sabha approving the Bill passed by the Lok Sabha.
Our Mumbai Bureau adds: According to a central bank official, 19 banks did not participate in the national cheque clearing process due to the strike. As against the daily average cheque volume of 7.5 lakh, only 2.61 lakh cheques came up for clearing.