Trade Union Body Backs Bank Strike Against PSU Bank Mergers In Oct. 22
The counters in the banking hall of the state-owned Punjab National Bank stand empty during a strike by bank employees in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Sondeep Shankar/Bloomberg News)

Trade Union Body Backs Bank Strike Against PSU Bank Mergers In Oct. 22

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The All India Trade Union Congress on Wednesday extended support to the bank strike called on Oct. 22 to protest against the government's mega public sector bank merger plan.

"We note that All India Bank Employees Association and Bank Employees Federation of India have jointly given the call for all India bank strike on Oct. 22, against the recent decision of the government to merge 10 public sector banks into four banks, thus deciding to close down six important nationalised banks," an AITUC statement said.

AITUC termed the government's decision to reduce the number of PSU banks to 12 from 21 as most unfortunate and totally unwarranted. “All these banks have a long history behind them and all of them have grown into big banks over the years," the statement said.

“At a time, when government is talking of providing every citizen access to banking via scheme like Jan Dhan Yojana, etc., announcing the PSU bank merger, which will result in large scale closure of branches and deprive people of banking service, is a most retrograde move," the AITUC statement read.

"So far there is no evidence that previous mergers in SBI, Bank of Baroda, etc., have yielded any positive results. This is not the time to experiment with merger of banks when banks are required to play a crucial role in lifting the economy out of its present serious mess and crisis," it said.

Also read: Bank Mergers Are No Silver Bullet for India

In fact, the entire attention of banks will now shift from efforts to recover the huge bad loans to tacking the problems arising out of mergers. This appears to be a deliberate move, since government is unable to take any serious measure to recover the bad loans from the corporate defaulters except through huge write off, haircuts and concessions, it said.

Also read: Public Sector Bank Mergers: The Real News Is Elsewhere

"Bank mergers are ill-timed and ill-motived. We appreciate the timely struggle of AIBEA and BEFI and support their all India strike on Oct. 22, 2019. This struggle needs to be further continued and intensified as mergers are a prelude to privatise the Banks," it added.

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