Banking operations may be hit for two days this week as a section of public sector bank (PSB) employees have threatened to go on a nationwide strike beginning July 12 to protest against the proposed merger of State Bank of India (SBI) associates and privatisation of IDBI Bank. “As the conciliation meeting with the Chief Labour Commissioner failed, we would continue with our strike call,” informed All India Bank Employees’ Association General Secretary C H Venkatachalam. All India Bank Officers’ Association and State Sector Bank Employees’ Association too will participate in the strike.
The strike would be observed by five SBI associate banks on July 12, followed by other public sector banks next day on July 13. Many banks including Bank of Baroda, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur and State Bank of Mysore have already informed that if the strike materializes, it might lead to inconvenience to their customers. In the event of the strike taking place, normal banking operations may get affected on July 12 and July 13, State Bank of Mysore said in a statement. Services like cheque clearances, cash deposit and withdrawal at bank branches and other facilities would affected in case of the strike.
Venkatachalam said that the unions have explained the issues involved in strike notice in detail as to why the proposed closure of Associate Banks and their merger with SBI, proposed privatisation of IDBI Bank and so on are unwarranted. He emphasised that effective measures to recover the alarmingly increasing bad loans is the real top priority for banks.
“We stated that instead of taking stringent measures against wilful and deliberate defaulters, the government is diverting the attention of the people by such steps like privatisation and consolidation as a means to improve efficiency and profitability of the banks,” he said.
Meanwhile, India-origin British politician Meghnad Desai has termed the Government’s decision to go ahead with the merger of SBI and its associate banks a “right idea”, saying that other PSU banks too should be merged from the current 24 to three-four large banks. “The consolidation of the State Bank of India is very much the right idea. The other PSU banks should also be merged from the present 24 (excluding SBI and its partners) into three-four large banks,” said the British politician.
The Union Cabinet last month gave the go-ahead to the proposal of merger of SBI and its subsidiaries that could make the state-owned lender a bank of global size. SBI has five associate banks — State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.
Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya had also termed the proposed merger a “win-win” for both sides. Among the associate banks, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore are listed.
The merged entity is expected to compete with the largest in the world, with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore, or over $555 billion, with 22,500 branches and 58,000 ATMs. It will have over 50 crore customers. SBI has close to 16,500 branches, including 191 foreign offices spread across 36 countries. The state-owned lender first merged State Bank of Saurashtra with itself in 2008.