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India bank unions strike over wages, consolidation

By Reuters Staff
September 24, 2008

Bank employees shout during protest to mark two-day strike in Ranchi

NEW DELHI, Sept 24 (Reuters) – State-run bank employees began a two-day strike on Wednesday protesting delay in wage increases, the head of a workers union said, affecting foreign exchange trading volumes.

Bank unions representing about 900,000 employees of 26 government-run banks went on strike after talks between government officials and Indian Banks’ Association failed on Tuesday.

“Strike has been successful and banking services across the country are paralysed,” said C. H. Venkatachalam, Convenor of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) and General Secretary of All India Bank Employees’ Association.

About 60,000 branches including those of country’s largest lender State Bank of India have been closed, he said.

Foreign exchange trading was hurt as state-run banks, who command more than 50 percent of Indian banking assets, stayed away, senior dealers at three banks and a union leader said.

Volumes were significantly lower than average, resulting in higher volatility in the market, foreign exchange dealers said.

Bond market volumes were not affected much, they added.

Private sector banks and foreign banks functioned as usual.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Swati Bhat; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)

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