Normal banking operations may take a hit on Friday as public sector bank employees will go on strike today to protest against the proposed merger of associate banks with SBI and banking reforms announced by the government.

The United Forum of Banks Unions (UFBU), an umbrella association of nine bank representatives and officers unions speaking to 8 lakh staff members, will proceed with the strike, conceivably influencing administrations like check clearances, money store and withdrawal at branches and different offices.

Most banks, including SBI, informed customers that banking services would be hit on July 29 due to the strike at all banks on “issue and demand to stop banking sector reforms”.

“The All India State Bank Officers’ Federation and the All India State Bank of India Staff Federation are members of UFBU. Thus, it is likely that the bank will also be impacted to some extent by the said strike calls,” SBI said in a statement.

According to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary C H Venkatachalam, the conciliation meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner on July 26 did not yield any positive results though UFBU is willing to reconsider the strike call if the government considers their demand and addresses it.

“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, trying to justify the proposed action.

Ashwani Rana, Vice-President of the National Organisation of Bank Workers, another affiliate of UFBU, said the strike call stands for Friday, but banks will work as usual on Saturday.

Unions, which are protesting against FDI in the banking sector, are pressing for various demands, which include one not to privatise public sector banks and increase private capital in such banks, Rana said.

The unions are also opposed to the move to privatise regional rural banks and co-operative banks, and consolidate and merge banks, among others, he added.

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