Banking operations across India were affected on Tuesday as one million employees went on a strike to protest proposed financial reforms in the banking industry.
The strike was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella organisation representing nine unions of bank employees.
Employees from 32 government and small private banks as well as 56 regional and rural banks joined the strike.
Top private banks were not affected.
The forum has been opposing government proposals to consolidate public sector banks through mergers.
It accuses the government of denying adequate capital to the banks, which it says is creating the conditions for privatisation.
There is also criticism of the government for being soft on loan defaults by large borrowers.
“Banks are cutting saving deposit rates and raising service charges which hurt customers, all because of the pile of bad loans.
“There should not be any leniency for this private corporate loot; banks will be killed if bad loans are not recovered.
“The government should open new banks; it should expand and not consolidate the banking network so more people can avail of loans.
“You need a vibrant banking sector for a vibrant economy,” CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary of All India Bank Employees Association said by phone from the southern city of Chennai.
The IANS news agency reported that banking operations were affected in 130,000 branches across India.
A large number of cash machines also remained closed, creating problems for customers.