Staff at German bank Postbank launched an indefinite strike Monday in eastern parts of the country, amid growing speculation parent company Deutsche Bank plans to sell off the subsidiary.
Branches stayed closed in parts of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg states while hundreds of employees were to rally in Berlin, said services union Verdi.
The bank's 9,500 branch employees are demanding job guarantees beyond a possible sale of their bank until the end of 2020, as well as a five-percent wage rise and other benefits.
"The employees have been deeply unsettled by the ongoing speculation about the future of Postbank and/or of the entire retail banking business," said the union in a statement.
Union spokesman Christoph Meister said "the employer's refusal to offer job protection has caused major emotional stress for the employees", making them all the more determined in their demand.
The supervisory board of Deutsche Bank, which acquired Postbank in 2008, meets on Friday, German press has reported.
The banking giant is set to announce a revised strategy next week, along with its first quarter results.
Business Handelsblatt reported last week that two models would be presented to the Deutsche Bank board -- one proposing the sale of Postbank, the other to split off Deutsche Bank's consumer banking sector.
News weekly Der Spiegel on Saturday reported that Postbank would likely be sold, saying the board preferred this option to splitting off the retail banking sector.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman however said that "reports that a decision has already been taken (are) wrong", insisting that the banking giant was weighing several options.
Postbank, formerly part of German mail service Deutsche Post, was privatised in 1995 and listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before being swallowed by Deutsche Bank.
It claims 14 million customers in Germany and posted a net profit of 278 million euros ($299 million) last year, compared to 1.7 billion euros for the Deutsche Bank Group as a whole.