Bank Strike Against Merger Affects Operations Across the Country

The strike had been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) – an umbrella organisation of nine unions.

Updated
India
3 min read
Bank employees stage a protest against the proposed merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda, during a strike at JDA garden in Jabalpur on 26 December. 
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Operations at branches of public sector banks across the country were impacted on Wednesday, 26 December, due to a day-long strike by unions against the proposed merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda (BoB).

The strike had been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) – an umbrella organisation of all nine unions including the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), the All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE) and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).

According to AIBEA General Secretary CH Vekatachalam, the strike is effective across the country and employees are fighting for a right cause, reported PTI.

However, branches of new generation private sector banks remained reportedly unaffected by the strike called by UFBU, which claims to have membership of nearly 10 lakh bank employees and officers across 21 public sector banks.

Strike Paralyses Banking Operations in Mumbai

In Mumbai, all banking operations were paralysed on Wednesday due to the strike.

The UBFU claimed "100 percent participation" by the employees and officers from all public sector, old generation private sector and some foreign banks in the strike, reported IANS.

In the afternoon, over 5,000 bank staffers reportedly staged a rally at Azad Maidan and raised slogans opposing the proposed mergers.

“Each public sector bank has its own history, geography and culture in the background. If the government bulldozes the decision of the merger, it will put their customers to great hardships.”
UBFU leaders addressing the rally, as quoted by IANS

They also urged the government to focus on the recovery of huge non-performing assets (NPAs) from big corporates to save the (banking) industry from collapsing instead of resorting to such mergers.

Top banking industry leaders heading different employees and officers unions like Narendra Kothiwala, Subhas Sawant, Mathaprasad Tripathi, KK Nair, Devidas Tuljapurkar, Yogesh Bidkar and others addressed the gathering, and warned of intensification of the agitation if the government remains adamant on its stance.

Tuljapurkar added that all union representatives will hold a meeting shortly to decide the future course of action.

‘Merger Will See Closure of Branches and Customers Will Face Hardships’

The government had in September this year announced the merger of state-owned Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with the larger peer Bank of Baroda.

The merged entity will have a combined business of Rs 14.82 trillion, making it the third largest bank after the State Bank of India (SBI) and HDFC Bank.

The unions are claiming that the merger is not in the interest of banks or their customers and will in fact be detrimental to both.

The government wants banks to grow in size through this amalgamation, but even if all public sector banks are bundled into one, the merged entity cannot find a place among the top 10 globally, said United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), which had called for the strike.

“This merger will see a large number of branches getting closed and customers will have to face hardships, as already banks are burdened with the implementation of various government schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra, social security insurance, and Prime Minister’s housing scheme, among others.” 
The Union, as quoted by PTI

Last week, public sector lender Bank of Baroda said the 'alternative mechanism' of the Finance Ministry had accorded in-principle approval for its merger with Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank.

The 'alternative mechanism' headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had decided to merge the three banks, with a view to create a lender with considerable size, which will be stronger and sustainable, PTI further reported.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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