Around 45,000 employees of SBI's five associate banks struck work across India to protest against the proposed merger plans and warned of more strikes next month, union activists said here on Friday.
"The strike was forced by the State Bank Of India (SBI) management's arrogant and high-handed approach and was in protest agains the forcible closure and takeover of these associate banks by the SBI," said All India Bank Employees Association vice president Vishwas Utagi.
He said similar strikes will be held in associate banks on June 7 and July 28, followed by a nationwide banking industry shutdown on July 29.
"Employees of associate banks and other public sector banks express their anger and protest over such forcible actions of SBI. All political parties and central trade unions must take note of this attack on national assets," Utagi said.
The five associate banks are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBJJ), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Patiala (SBP) and State Bank of Travancore (SBT).
Together, they have more than 67,000 branches and 9,000 ATMs across the country, according to an official.
The total business of these banks as in March 2016 was Rs.900,000 crore with operative profit of Rs.10,500 crore.
Utagi said the associate bank employees and their unions affilitate to AIBEA have been opposing the merger plans since long and agitating for the implementation of other demands relating to compassionate appointments, staff housing loans and other issues.
He said the SBI's move last week was not in conformity with the AIBEA's views and suggestions conveyed to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in their meetings on March 23 and April 25.
"It was proposed that all the five associate banks can be crossmerged into one single entity. Under the circumstances, we wonder how associates banks of SBI were forced to take a decision to merge with the SBI," Utagi said.