A day-long strike by about 12,000 employees of state-run and private banks on Wednesday stalled operations, including transactions, across Karnataka, a trade union leader said.
"The strike was total and peaceful across the state. About 4,000 employees of banks in and around Bangalore demonstrated outside the State Bank of Mysore (SBM) head office in the city centre in support of their demands, including wage revision," Karnataka's United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) joint convener A N Krishnamurthy told IANS.
Under the banner of UFBU, nine unions, including five representing workers and four representing officers, had submitted in October 2012 a charter of demands including wage revision which was due from November 1 that year.
"Though we had five negotiations with the Indian Banks Association (IBA) and officials of the ministry of labour, there is no response so far on our demands despite the work load in branches increasing many fold due to growing volume of business," Krishnamurthy said.
He said thousands of bank employees and officers were working under great stress, risking their health and well being. Spiralling prices have added to their woes.
He termed the ongoing banking sector reforms "ill-advised", and said that despite disapproval of such moves by employees, the government was bent on eroding the public sector character of its banks.
"In the guise of liberalisation and globalisation, the government wants to privatise state-run banks by reducing their majority equity stake below 51% which is against the spirit of banks nationalisation by then Congress government in 1969," Krishnamurthy said.
The unions also expressed concern over the recent statement of new Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan in New York that foreign banks would be allowed to set up 100% subsidiaries in the country.
"The RBI governor has caused apprehension in us by unilaterally declaring outside the country that more multinational banks would be allowed to do business in India knowing well that many of them like Lehman Brothers caused the financial meltdown in Europe and the US since mid-2008," Krishnamurthy said.