Nearly 50,000 employees affiliated to the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) are set to hold a protest on Friday against the proposed merger of the State Bank of Mysore (SBM), as also four other banks, with the State Bank of India (SBI).
There is a sense of unease and divided opinion among the staff and officers of SBM over the proposed merger. While the union leaders speaking for the staff are vociferous in opposing it, officers are ambivalent and have resigned to its “inevitability” as fallout of government policy.
Along with SBM, the SBI has proposed to merge with State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Patiala, and State Bank of Travancore.
“Besides being an emotional issue, employees are apprehensive over downsizing, closure of branches and redeployment by SBI in the guise of rationalisation of branches. The very purpose of founding the SBM in 1913 to cater to the local credit requirements of the land will be defeated. More than anything else, it is the question of losing identity that is haunting the employees,” said S.R. Pawar, general secretary, SBI Employees’ Union, and president, State Sector Bank Employees’ Association.
R. Raghavendra, Workman Director, representing the workers on the SBM Board, who attended the crucial meeting in Mumbai where the issue of merger cropped up on Tuesday, told The Hindu that it was an emotional issue for most of its staff and accountholders. He also placed his dissent in the meeting.
However, R. Ramesh, general secretary of the State Unit of Associate Bank Officers’ Association, said, “We won’t oppose the merger with the parent organisation (SBI). A resolution was passed at the Jaipur convention of Associate Banks Officers’ Association. But considering the issues that erupted during the merger of State Bank of Sourashtra and State Bank of Indore, we have asked SBI to discuss with us before the process begins. We don’t want to sacrifice the officers’ interest in the process.”
J. Lokesh, who worked in SBM for nearly 40 years, said, “I will no longer have an identity once SBI accomplishes its task of merging with the five associate banks.” Like Mr. Lokesh, over 7,000 employees of SBM are upset with SBI kick-starting the merger process.
SBM has a history of 103 years and a rich legacy, besides a brand as ‘Namma Bank’ in the State, which underlines its image as bankers to the masses. We will oppose merger moves.
R. Raghavendra,Workman Director, representing workers on the SBM Board