9 Bank Employee Unions Join Forces Against Selling Govt Banks To Private Firms; Declare Massive Strike On These Dates
In another firework set off by the Union Budget proposed of the current year, a mega-union [United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU)] of 9 bank unions have made the decision to oppose a proposal that has to do with disinvestment and subsequent privatisation of 2 Public Sector Banks (PSB) —IDBI (its majority stake sold to LIC in 2019) along with the mergers of up to 14 PSBs in the past 4 years..
The mega union includes the following participants- All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).
What does this mean for citizens?
They wish to express this discontentment by means of a nationwide strike called for 2 days on Mar 15 and 16, as declared by AIBOC general secretary Soumya Datta.
This indicates likely no banking facilities will be available to the public for 4 days beginning Mar 13.
Banks in several locations are also expected to remain closed on Mar 11 due to Maha Shivratri.
Why are unions peeved?
Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister and hence presenter of the Budget, announced that the Centre intended to disinvest state-run and non-strategic firms.
This announcement put PSU bank employees and unions on high alert because they feared they were going to be left outside the strategic gamut of the Budget.
Apart from the aforementioned grievances, UFBU, represented by General Secretary Venkatachalam, also lamented the following components of the plan announced by the centre to revive and rejuvenate an ailing bank economy.
“The meeting discussed the various announcements made in the budget of the central government regarding reform measures like privatisation of IDBI Bank and two PSBs, setting up of bad bank, disinvestment in LIC, privatisation of one general insurance company, allowing FDI in insurance sector up to 74 per cent, aggressive disinvestment and sale of public sector undertakings, etc,” just about summed it up.
A callback to history was made in a statement from Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) which noted that UFBU has been relentlessly opposing privatisation for a long time now.
What’s a “bad bank”?
For those not in the know, the term “bad bank” refers to an Asset Reconstruction (ARC) or an Asset Management Company that presides over bad loans possessed by commercial banks, takes over its management and eventually recovers the money over a certain period of time.
Reasoning behind the strike
They reasoned that these measures are “retrograde”, hence they need to be “protested and opposed”. Furthermore, they spoke about plans to launch “intensive struggle programs” and “agitational actions” to really drive home the fact that they do not approve and are unhappy.
What to watch out for
UFBU has a long line of activities in the coming days.
A day-long “dharna” has been planned in all state capitals on the date of Feb 19.
“Relay dharnas” have been scheduled in all states, districts and towns between the dates of Feb 20 to Mar 10.
The main event is set to be staged on 2 separate days, Mar 15 and 16.
Further strikes are already in the offing, which is dependent on subsequent developments.
This is already preceded by demonstrations across the country last week in protest.
The same is evidenced as per statement by UFBU convener for Maharashtra Devidas Tuljapurkar, “UFBU is meeting on 9 February at Hyderabad to decide on full-fledged agitation against the proposed privatization of public sector banks”.
As further justified by AIBEA General Secretary, the announcement made by the Centre to privatise PSBs is “unfortunate and unwarranted”. He seems to be hopeful of the demonstrations scheduled by his organisation to reach the intended objective of “strengthening PSBs”.
Also to take into cognizance is the fact that revenue from these disinvestment receipts for FY 2022 is expected to reach into Rs 1.75 trillion. This is expected to fuel the Centre’s social and developmental schemes.
The ideal situation would have been that the banks be granted the rightful conditions to operate efficiently. However, given the lack of communication and general distrust, it looks like the near blackmail sentiment echoed by strikes is unlikely to cease anytime soon.