Operations in state-run banks in some parts of India were disrupted on Tuesday after two bank unions called a one-day nationwide strike to protest against the Centre’s move to merge 10 public sector banks into four entities, PTI reported.
The All India Bank Employees Association and the Bank Employees Federation of India organised the protest against bank mergers and falling deposit rates. Some of their demands are recovery of bad loans, stringent action against defaulters, and job security, ANI reported.
Services such as cash deposit, withdrawal from counters, and cheque clearances were impeded. However, branches of public sectors banks in urban areas were operational.
“Merger of banks is totally unwarranted in India as we need more banking services and opening of more branches to serve the people,” All India Bank Employees Association General Secretary CH Venkatachalam told PTI. He said the merger had resulted in closure of branches, and added that it was a wrong decision.
In Patna and Bengaluru, thousands of bank employees refused to report to work. “There is a chance that we lose our jobs after the merger of the banks,” ANI quoted Bank of Baroda’s Bihar General Secretary Jiyan Lal as saying. “This move by the Centre will create unemployment and make their condition worse.”
In regulatory filings at stock exchanges, the government-owned banks have assured that necessary steps are being taken for the smooth functioning of the branches.
In August, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference that no jobs would be lost following the proposed merger. Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar told the media there would be no retrenchment. “Rather employee benefits and human resource conditions will improve,” he added at the press briefing. “Best practices will be followed. We will especially ensure that no employee is negatively affected because of this.”
The mergers will reduce the number of state-owned banks from 27 in 2017 to 12.
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