Unions protest move to merge public sector banks

Bank employees and officers attached to All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE), and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) observed a nationwide strike on Thursday, opposing implementation of the Banking Laws Amendment Bill and changes in the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act.

The Bill clears the way for foreign investments in the banking sector and establishment of new private banks.

As part of the strike, bank employees and officers staged a demonstration in front of Canara Bank’s Circle Office here. “Employees and officers from nearly 250 branches of nationalised banks in the city participated in the strike. There is no need for the merger of public sector banks in India. The merger will only encourage corporate houses to start their own banks,” J. Ravichandran, president of AIBEA said.

“Statistics indicate that only 50 percent of people in India have bank accounts. The Centre should focus on educating rural people and cultivating banking habit among them instead of taking steps to merge banks,” he said.

To aid corporate houses

The protestors also termed the slew of measures proposed by the Centre as ‘anti-people.’ “The proposal to merge the banks is to de-stablise public sector banks and to encourage the corporate firms to start banks to gobble up public savings. The government should retract from implementing the proposed changes that are against the interest of the public,” said R. Jawahar, secretary of AIBEA.

The four associations have more than 3,000 members in Madurai district. The strike paralysed banking operations in the city on Thursday. The Banking Laws Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and is likely to be considered by Raj Sabha next week.

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