New Delhi, Jul 29: Services at around 80,000 bank branches in the country were hit today as employees of public sector banks went on one-day strike to protest the proposed merger of SBI associates with the parent and other issues. However, in a relief to bank customers, all the banks, including private sector lenders which were not part of the strike today, would be working full day tomorrow. The United Forum of Banks Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of nine bank employees and officers unions representing 8 lakh staffers struck work affecting services like cheque clearances, cash deposit and withdrawals at branches and other facilities.(Also Read: Bank strike hits financial operations, bankers protest against government’s banking policies) Also Read - Bank Strike Today: Banking Services Partially Affected as Lakhs of Employees Protest, SBI & Private Banks Functional

Commenting on the strike, SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said the bank would take on board all the stakeholders. “People have to understand that the change is inevitable. There have been strike at many occasions but we have to educate them and take them on board,” she said. SBI has proposed merger of its five associate banks with itself to create a banking behemoth in the country. According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam, normal operations at branches across all PSU banks were affected because strike was thrust upon as management and the government was not willing to understand unions’ point of view. Also Read - Bank Strike: Many Public Sector Banks to Remain Closed Across India on November 26, Here's Why

“The conciliation meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner on July 26 did not yield any positive results,” he added. “The unions were ready for meaningful discussion, but the government only tried to justify their present policy decision on banking reforms and hence, there was no meeting point,” he explained. Ashwani Rana, Vice-President of the National Organisation of Bank Workers, another affiliate of UFBU, said banks will work as usual on Saturday. Unions are protesting against FDI in banking sector and other demands such as no privatisation of public sector banks, he added. Earlier, industry body Assocham had estimated that the strike would hit transactions worth Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore. Also Read - Bank Strike Day 2: ATMs to Run Dry, Salaries May Get Delayed as PSUs Continue Protest