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All India Bank Strike

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Nine bank unions, representing 900,000 workers, are opposing merger proposals of state-run banks including the subsidiaries of leader State Bank of India, and seeking pensions for all bank staff.
They have called a strike on Monday and Tuesday next week. "As of now, the strike is on," C.H. Venkatachalam, convenor of the United Forum of Bank Unions and joint secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association, said on Thursday.
A one-day strike last month of more than half a million employees had shut bank branches and thinned trade in local currency and bond markets, in which state-run banks are the biggest participants.
Next week's strike would be "more complete", Venkatachalam said, if there was no progress in Friday's meeting of the bank unions and the Indian Bank Association representing management, with the country's chief labour commissioner. "We have conveyed our wishes to the government," he said. "If there are some practical solutions tomorrow, then we may not go on strike. But if there is no positive outcome, there will be an even bigger strike as people are angry now, they are more anxious," Venkatachalam said.
The unions have said they would strike "indefinitely" in March if talks did not progress. India had 82 commercial banks, including 29 foreign banks, and nearly 3,000 urban and rural cooperative banks at March 2007.
State-run Dena Bank said its operations may be affected by the strike. "The bank is taking all necessary steps for the smooth functioning of the bank's branches and offices to deal with the strike," it said in a statement to the stock exchange.
At foreign banks such as Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered, the strike is expected to have only a marginal impact, a spokesman at one foreign bank said, as only some junior staff were affiliated with the unions. Newer private banks such as ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and HDFC Bank do not have unions.
The Bombay Stock Exchange would make a decision with the National Stock Exchange on how to minimise the impact of the strike on trading, a spokesman said. During last month's strike, the two exchanges had postponed settlement of cash and derivative trades by one trading session.