Millennium Post

IDBI Bank unions to go on strike from Monday

A section of officers and employees of IDBI Bank are going on strike from Monday to protest against the government's plan to pare its stake in the lender. While a group of employees under the banner of United Forum of IDBI Officers and Employees has given a one-day strike call on March 28, another outfit United Platform of IDBI Bank Unions are on a four-day strike till March 31.

The unions and management had two conciliation meetings with the Mumbai labour commissioner earlier this month but failed to resolve their differences.

"We had two meetings with the labour commissioner on March 18 and 21 but both the meetings failed and we are going ahead with the four-day strike," said an office bearer of the United Platform of IDBI Bank Unions.

The bank has around 17,500 employees. The strike will be nation-wide, except in Karnataka where the High Court has restrained the unions from any kind of protest or strike.

Employees are protesting the government proposal to bring down its stake in the bank from around 80 per cent to under 50 per cent. In the Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the government was open to bring down its stake in IDBI Bank to below 50 per cent.

"The process of transformation of IDBI Bank has already started. The government will take it forward and also consider the option of reducing its stake to below 50 per cent," Jaitley had said.

The management has tried persuading the unions to call off the strike. "We have spoken to employees and asked them to call off their strike as it is year-end. We also held town hall meetings with the employees and have spoken to them at length," said a senior bank official.

For convenience of customers, the bank opened its branches on March 26, which was an official holiday for banks. "We will also try to keep some of our branches open during the strike period to help customers do their transactions," the official said.

The bank will continue with its basic treasury operations during the period, he added. 

The United Platform of IDBI Bank Unions said the "arbitrary and subjective move of the Government not only tantamount to reneging on the solemn assurance" given by the then Finance Minister in Parliament in December 2003 which formed the basis for the passage of the IDBI (Transfer of Undertaking and Repeal) Act, 2003.

"To resist such arbitrary move, we, under the banner of United Forum of IDBI Officers and Employees, have already initiated our emphatic protest over the contemplated move of the Government and have shown our protest by writing letter to the Finance Minister,...and decided for four day nation-wide strike from March 28 to March 31 to oppose privatisation of IDBI Bank", the union said at a press conference in New Delhi.

The Convener of the union A V Vithal Koteshwara Rao also wrote letters dated March 19, both to the Finance Minister Minister Arun Jaitley and the MoS Finance Jayant Sinha, seeking personal meeting with them.

The statement given by the Finance Minister in the Budget speech on February 29 that government may reduce its stake below 50 per cent in IDBI Bank has caused considerable anxiety and apprehensions in the minds of the bank employees, read the letter.
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