Published On: Wed, Dec 26th, 2018

Employees of 9 PSUs on nationwide strike against Dena Bank-Vijaya Bank-Bank of Baroda merger

New Delhi: Around 10 lakh employees of nine public sector banks on Wednesday went on a nationwide strike against the merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda. They are also seeking their salary revision.

Bank employees agitating against Dena Bank-Vijaya Bank-Bank of Baroda merger in Bhopal on Wednesday

An umbrella organisation of nine-bank union, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) is participating in the strike across the country.

The nine banks are — National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW), National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF) and Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC).

In September, the Centre had approved the merger of the three banks which will make the entity the third largest lender of the country after State Bank of India and the HDFC Bank.

The protesters are demanding the Centre to revoke its decision on the proposed merger and is seeking an urgent action from the government to recover huge bad loans from corporate defaulters, stating that amalgamation of banks will not help to recover bad loans.

The wage revision of the bank employees is due since November 1, 2017. The bank unions had submitted their charter of demands on which the Indian Bank Association (IBA) called several round of meetings. Although, the IBA has offered 8 per cent wage hike, the UFBU has termed it as “unacceptable”.

IBA general secretary CH Venkatachalam told ANI in Chennai: “Today 10 lakh employees and officers are on strike. The Centre has been taking anti-banking sector policies since the past few years. They want to privatise these banks and they want to merge banks and turn them as international banks. Last year also, the merger of six other banks with State Bank of India has not benefitted SBI at all. For the first time in 200 years, SBI is reeling in losses”.

He added that public, especially those residing in the rural areas, would be facing inconvenience as the merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda will lead to closure of thousands of branches across the country.

Terming the merger as a “wrong policy”, Venkatachalam further said: “When branches and ATMs get closed, where will the people go? Banks and branches are very important. More branches should be opened to people to make them accessible to banking service. They are also not taking measures to receive bad loans and it is a wrong policy. There is a need for expansion of branches.”

AIBOC convenor VVSR Sharma told ANI in Hyderabad that around 85,000 bank employees from 5,000 state-run banks are participating in the day-long agitation.

“We are going on strike today for two demands. One is against merger of PSU banks and second is recovery of bad loans from corporates. The non-performing assets mounted to the tune of 10 lakh crore in the country, which is a huge problem. We demand that stringent measures should be taken such as declaring willful default of recovery of bad loans as a criminal offence. More than that, Rs 2.5 lakh crore are due from 12 corporates who are expanding their businesses and earning huge wealth. The public will be greatly inconvenienced by this move,” he elaborated.

Warning of repercussions if the merger of the three banks goes ahead, Sharma said that the bank unions will be compelled to go on an indefinite strike.

Echoing similar sentiments, AIBA Gujarat state unit chairman RV Seth asserted that the proposed merger is being done by the government to encourage private banks to grow.

“We are protesting against this merger. The public will be affected by this move. In the name of merger, private banks are being encouraged and central government is finding ways to close down PSU banks,” Seth told ANI.

This is the second time in a week within this month that a nationwide bank strike is taking place. The ongoing strike will greatly trouble thousands of people, who would not be able to avail banking services.

Earlier, the Strike Additional Labour Commissioner had called a conciliation meeting on December 20 in a last-minute attempt to request the bank unions not to go on a nationwide strike, but it failed.

The UFBU subsequently served a strike notice to IBA and MDs of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank against the proposed merger. Since there was no assurance by IBA to stop the merger of the three banks and fresh offer on wage revision, the bank unions decided to go on strike.

ANI

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