bank strike
Representative image.

The 2-day nationwide bank strike began on Thursday across India in protest against the central government’s move to privatise two public sector lenders.

The strike has been called by the Union Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of 9 bank unions.

Most of the banks, including the State Bank of India (SBI) have already cautioned their customers about the possible impact of the strike on banking operations like cheque clearance and fund transfer.

The uproar began ever since the Centre in its Budget 2021-22 announced its decision to take up privatisation of 2 public sector banks (PSBs) during the year.

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In the Union Budget 2021, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said two public sector banks would be privatised during the current fiscal year as part of the central government’s Rs 1.75 lakh crore disinvestment plan.

The central government intends to introduce the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament.

“Consideration of various issues related to disinvestment, which inter alia, include selection of the bank(s) is entrusted to the Cabinet committee designated for this purpose. Decision by the Cabinet committee concerned for privatisation of PSBs has not been taken in this regard,” Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in reply to a question on Monday.

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The bank unions have vehemently opposed the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

The Centre plans to introduce the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the provision in the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970.

The Act requires the central government to maintain a 51% share in public sector banks at all times.

The central government’s minimum ownership will be reduced to 26% under the new measure.

AIBOC, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers are among the 9 bank unions which have formed UFBU (NOBW).

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