Striking impact: Several nationalized banks either wore a deserted look with skeleton staff or were forced to down shutters owing to strike called by trade unions on Tuesday. Operations in most public sector banks were disrupted while postal and transport services were partially affected on Tuesday in the wake of general strike called by the Central trade unions.
Several industries around the city, including Ashok Leyland and T.I. Group, were also affected as employees stayed away. With 15 bank unions, including All India Bank Employees Association and Bank Employees Federation of India, on the forefront of the strike call, branches of several public sector banks and some private banks remained closed owing to thin attendance of employees.
The strike was part of the nationwide bandh called by the unions against the hike in prices of essential commodities and the new pension scheme. Trade unions held demonstrations across the city demanding setting up of a committee for unorganized workers, fixing of Rs.10,000 as minimum monthly wage and strict enforcement of labour laws.
Some customers, like 70-year-old D. Leela, who were unaware of the strike, returned home without carrying out their transaction. Ms. Leela, a resident of Kilpauk, said, “My pension gets credited in this bank and I do not know how to operate the ATM. I visit the bank only once or twice a month. I have to come again tomorrow to withdraw cash.” Many branches wore a deserted look as most of the clerical staff did not turn up for duty.
An official of a nationalized bank in Anna Nagar said, “We had intimated customers and put up notices in all branches asking them to complete their transactions before Tuesday to avoid inconvenience. We filled cash in the ATMs on Monday. But, cash cannot be replenished again as I need a clerical staff member to do the task with me.”
Daily operations of business people in the city were also affected. S. Lakshmi, a resident of Avadi, said, “I had transferred money through RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) from my branch to supplier's bank account three days ago. But it has not reached the supplier. I have to wait till tomorrow to credit the cash and also find out the status of earlier transaction.”
According to banks' trade unions, nearly 14,000 of 18,000 employees in the city participated in the strike. Staff of the Reserve Bank of India and the insurance sector also took part in the bandh.
C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of All India Bank Employees' Association, said: “Cash and cheque clearing operations were affected in many banks in Chennai. We are against banking reforms, outsourcing of permanent jobs and privatization.”
Members of three unions — All India Bank Officers' Confederation, Indian National Bank Officers Congress and National Union of Bank Employees — refrained from the strike.
Postal services too were hit as many customers avoided post offices fearing low attendance. While head post offices had sufficient staff members with only 20 per cent remaining off duty, the smaller ones were affected by the strike. J. Srivenkatesh, Circle president, All India Postal Employees' Union, Tamil Nadu Circle, said that nearly 4,000 postal employees participated in the strike. Of the nearly 220 post offices in Chennai and suburbs, about 190 did not have full-fledged operations. As postmen were not available, delivery of letters and speed posts were hit.
Residents who went to tahsildar's offices in the suburbs, such as Ambattur, also returned disappointed as there were not sufficient personnel to provide pattas or legal heir certificates.Commuters, however, managed to travel to their destinations as more than half of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses and auto rickshaws plied. M.V. Krishnan, vice-president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Chennai district, said nearly 40 per cent of the MTC buses and auto rickshaws were not operated.
Source : The Hindu