Banks to strike, shut shop for 5 days: Who allows them to rob us of our festive cheer?

The big question that the bank officials don’t seem to care about is how people are to cope without banking services for so long? Are they only interested in getting some extra holidays?

 |  2-minute read |   20-12-2018
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Brace yourself for a credit crunch as two separate strike calls made by public sector banks (PSU) are going to see a five-day-long shutdown of banks.

No, the banks are not taking a break to celebrate the festive season (apparently) — but the strike could cost consumers their festive cheer.

sbi-690_122018055730.jpgPSU banks will remain shut for five days. (Source: PTI)

A union of bank officers, the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), has called for a strike on December 21. Another strike call has been made by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine bank unions, on December 26.

As a result of the strike calls made by the two unions, the banks will remain closed from Friday (December 21) to Wednesday (December 26), except Monday (December 24), and banking services could be adversely affected on these days.

The banks will remain closed on December 22 and 23 on account of these being fourth Saturday and Sunday respectively. December 25 will be the national holiday for Christmas.

Over 3.2 lakh officers of AIBOC would participate in the strike. They are alleging that no headway has been made in the XIth bipartite wage revision talks.

The big question that the bank officials don’t seem to care about though is how ordinary people are going to cope in the absence of banking services for so long.  

For a country which has still not completely recovered from the twin shocks of demonetisation and GST implementation, the timing of this strike couldn’t have been worse.

bank-690_122018055932.jpgThe long queues that came in the wake of demonetisation are still fresh in public memory. (Source: Reuters)

This is not just a time when people are preparing for Christmas and New Year’s Eve — this is also marriage season for several communities. Many weddings are planned for January and people need to shop and make arrangements for their big day. Very often, relatives working outside the country send their parents or children extra money at this time of year. How are they to access these funds for vital payments or simply to buy a few feel-good items?

And it is not just celebrations and consumerism that stand to suffer.

Almost every economist has highlighted how medium and small enterprises suffered the most when demonetisation was implemented in the country. These businesses depend on cash for their day-to-day transactions.

Even a perception of a credit crunch is enough to send shockwaves across the industry whose recovery is still wobbly.

small-690_122018060118.jpgSmall units and businesses are yet to fully recover from the shocks of demonetisation and GST. (Source: PTI)

Also, people may have medical emergencies which almost always come unannounced.

There are withdrawal limits on ATM transactions and people rush to banks for all big dealings. It is often the poor and middle class that have to bear the brunt of such moves.

If banks shut shop, it is but obvious that ATMs too would run out of cash soon. After all, ATMs can only have a limited amount of cash.

People can opt for cashless transactions, but the impediments in the penetration of the digital economy are well-known.

People use the December breaks to travel and make merry — with the banks striking work for a wage hike, people may find it difficult to lay their hands on their own money.

Also read: Is it time to say goodbye to Rs 2,000 note?

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