Friday, January 25, 2008

Indian Banks goign on strike

MUMBAI, Jan 25 (Reuters) - A strike by bank employees protesting moves to merge state-run banks is expected to hit Indian banking operations and financial markets on Friday.

The unions, representing 900,000 workers, are opposing proposals to merge state-run banks and are seeking pensions for all bank staff, a bank union leader said.

"Our talks have failed. We are going on strike," C.H. Venkatachalam, convenor of the United Forum of Bank Unions and joint secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association said on Friday.

"We are not convinced of the benefits of a merger."

Venkatachalam said the strike would be "total", affecting cash transactions, treasury and foreign exchange operations.

He said State Bank of India (SBI.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), the country's biggest bank, was planning to absorb its subsidiaries and there were proposals to merge other state-run banks, which he did not name.

The strike would include all state-run banks and foreign banks, but newer private banks such as ICICI Bank (ICBK.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) (IBN.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Axis Bank (AXBK.BO : Quote, Profile, Research), HDFC Bank (HDBK.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) (HDB.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Yes Bank (YESB.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) would not be a part of the strike as they did not have unions, he said. The Bombay Stock Exchange said in a statement that there would be no settlements at the exchange on Friday because of the strike, although trading would continue as usual.

The benchmark BSE index has had a volatile week, and ended down 2.12 percent on Thursday, at 17,221.74 points.

The unions called a three-day strike in March, but called it off after the government agreed to consider their demands.

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