A section of officers of the public sector banks (PSBs) under AIBOC will hold a ‘March-to- Parliament’ protest on Tuesday against a move to consolidate state-owned lenders and other “anti-worker” decisions of the government. All India Bank Officers’ Confederation General Secretary Harvinder Singh said AIBOC has called the protest on the same day (August 9) on which Gandhiji had launched Quit India movement in 1942 to oust the British from India, because it too wants to save the Indian economy from the clutches of capitalists and foreigners, while protecting PSBs.
More than 10,000 officers including from communication, power and other public sector entities will take part in the march, he said. “We are opposing policies of the government that are leading to the foreign direct investment into critical sectors including banking. We want to oppose the privatisation. The government is not paying attention to our issues,” Singh said.
The public sector banks are plagued with the rising non-performing assets (NPAs) problem and the government is not paying attention to correct that, he added. Overall, the banking sector has stressed loans worth Rs 13 lakh crore of which the PSBs account for the major portion of Rs 10-11 lakh crore, Singh said. “The federation has been demanding that government help recover the money, as the money belongs to the common man. The government is not paying attention to that. We are not even allowed to disclose the names of willful defaulters in the guise of secrecy. Rather, the PSBs are being maligned that they are not performing,” he added.
AIBOC said the recently amended Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (Sarfaesi) Act, and the debt recovery tribunal (DRT) Act have flaws. “The DRTs have become den of corruption. Cases remain pending for 10-15 years at the DRTs. We also want the government to allow the wilful defaulter cases to be tried as criminal offenses rather than civil,” Singh said. PSBs have transformed banking in the country during the last 50 years and have withstood various economic onslaughts and resisted the crisis without damage.
AIBOC is protesting against consolidation of PBU banks, increasing foreign capital leading to privatisation, grant of new bank licences among others. Last month, PSU bank employees were on a one-day nationwide strike to protest against the government policies including merger of SBI’s associates with the parent -- State Bank of India. “On the one hand government talks about opening more branches, while at the same time new licences are also being given which is contradictory in nature. Besides, the government has said it wants to create 4-5 large bank by merging around 20-22 other banks into them. We want to oppose that,” Singh said. Bank of India, Union Bank, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank and Canara Bank are expected to be the banks that may be asked to merge other entities into them, he said. Unions are protesting against FDI in banking sector and other demands such as no privatisation of public sector banks, said Ashwani Rana, Vice-President of the National Organisation of Bank Workers, an affiliate of UFBU.
“Even during the sub-prime crisis which shook the western economies and decimated several and huge banks there, Indian PSBs survived without any harm due to their intrinsic value. They have contributed hundreds of thousands crores of profits and taxes to the government’s resources,” AIBOC asserted. Singh said western interests are hell-bent on penetrating the vast resources of PSBs through the advice of consultation firms hailing from west.
Labour laws are also being penetrated into by the government in the name of easing the business environment, just to sub-serve the capitalist interests, foreign players and to the detriment of the working class, Singh added.