Gangtok Aug6: Banking transactions in the Gangtok and rest of Sikkim came to a near halt on Thursday as over 2,000 staff and officers of nationalised banks began their two-day demanding higher salaries and starting the pension option once again. Even ATMs were closed for any banking transactions.
Despite well-publicised assurance by prominent bankers, ATMs today were non-functional on the first day of the nationwide strike by bank employees.
Most of the ATMs ~ belonging to both private and nationalised banks ~ did not even open up their shutters this morning. The very few ATMs that opened today were running dry on cash even at the very beginning of the day, leaving the public at sea. People were running from one spot to another to find a functioning ATM to get some cash, but all in vain.
The call for strike was given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, which consists of bank officers and staff of more than eight organisations.
Though State Bank of Sikkim and co-operative banks continued functioning normally, their bulk of transactions does not amount to more than 15 per cent of the total banking transactions in Sikkim.
Bank employees held their gate meeting outside the office premises of the various Banks in Gangtok and other parts of Sikkim to support strike call of their Union.
S U Deshpande,General secretary of National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO), told media that the strike was total' as none of the employees from any public sector bank reported for work.
Deshpande said the call for strike came in reaction to the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) backtracking from a settlement formula, earlier agreed upon. "The federation had demanded a 20 per cent rise in salary, considering the work pressure and increasing burden of responsibility. The IBA had agreed to offer a 15 per cent rise, but on the 4th of August it backtracked, saying they can not offer anything more than 13 per cent. They also deferred any decision on reopening of the pension option," Deshpande elaborated