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One-day strike hits banking services in northeast

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Agartala/Guwahati, July 29 (IANS) Banking services were badly affected in the northeastern region on Friday as most of the major banks remained closed due to an employees’ strike.

The striking employees are protesting the proposed merger of State Bank of India’s associate banks with the parent and the government’s move to privatise IDBI Bank.

"Over 10,000 bank employees belonging to more than 3,000 nationalised and private bank branches in the seven northeastern states took part in the strike, opposing the proposed amendments to the banking laws," said United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) spokesman Sushobhan Datta Majumder.

"The proposed restructuring in the banking sector is expected to be undertaken aiming at mergers, acquisitions and outsourcing of routine activities of Indian banks and to allow foreign banks and investors in these activities and banking managements," Majumder told reporters in Agartala.

A large number of the ATMs were closed, creating problems for the people.

The UFBU — the umbrella organisation of five employees’ unions and four officers’ associations of state-owned banks — had called the strike after its talks with the Indian Banks Association failed recently in New Delhi.

"The bank strike is not for the interest of the employees alone… the agitation is to protest policies of the central government and to protect the Indian banks from foreign controls," Majumder said.

The banking employees have also been protesting the outsourcing of non-core activities by the authorities.

Government and foreign exchange transactions were also affected.

Protest rallies were also held in many cities of northeast by the striking employees.

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