Four officers’ unions, All India Bank Officer’s Confederation (AIBOC), the All India Bank Officer’s Association (AIBOA), the Indian National Bank Officer’s Congress (INBOC) and the National Organization of Bank Officers (NOBO), have called for a strike on September 26 and 27 to protest against the merger of 10 state-run banks into four bigger banks, service charges imposed on the customers, demanding five working days a week, and scrapping of the New Pension Scheme.
Two employees’ unions — All India Bank Employee’s Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employee’s Federation of India (BEFI) — have called for a series of protest action including an all India strike on the October 22nd.
The Indian National Bank Employee’s Federation (INBEF) and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have also come out supporting the strike call given by the Officer’s Union. The unions have come out strongly against the merger of 10 banks into four and also demanded not to burden the people with service charges.
Meanwhile, several prominent citizens– including Kavita Krishnan, All India Progressive Women’s Association; Ashok Chaudhary, All India Union of Forest Working People, Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements; Himanshu Upadhyaya, faculty, Azim Premji University; Jammu Anand, Himanshu Takkar, South Asian Network for Dams, Rivers and People; Sreedar, Environics Trust; Leo Saldanha, Environment Social Group; Priya D, Centre for Financial Accountability; and Bharat Patel of the Machimar Adhikaar Sangharsh Sangathan, Gujarat — have also welcomed the protest action.
In a statement, these individuals said, “The idea that bank mergers would result in big global banks is a fallacy, as even if all the banks are merged to form one bank its capital would be only close to $4 billion while the global big banks have a capital of over $70 to 80 billion. Hence, mergers are not for the benefits of banks or to increase the volume of credit (more number of loans) but only to increase the size of the credit (large loans) given to the corporate sector. At a time when the banks are facing loss due to non-performing assets (NPA), this move would only further the crisis in the near future.”
Further, it said, “Bank charges now levied for each and every single transaction has only burdened the people and is also alienating them from the banks. The penalty collected for not maintaining minimum balance alone by public sector banks (PSBs) and four private banks is Rs 14,000 crore, the same for extra ATM (more than four times) transactions is Rs 4,144 crore. The service charges are nothing but a way to cover the loss made by corporate bad loans. Looting the people for the loss made by corporates should immediately be stopped.”
The statement conrinued, “Bank unions have warned the government and RBI before too of its faulty policies in dealing with the NPA crisis. They had warned against restructuring and ever greening, the futility of IBC and resisted the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) but neither the government nor the RBI paid head to it.”
But today, it added, “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has discontinued all restructuring as they have only delayed the crisis without addressing it. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), after two years has only given minimum returns to the banks but has been a colossal drain of the banks’ resources in the haircuts and provisions. Similarly, it was only after a strong push back from the people that the government withdrew the FRDI Bill. It would hence do good for the government to listen to unions and stop the mergers of the banks.”
The statement demanded:
- To make wilful default criminal offence
- To put in place adequate due diligence for large scale loans
- To include social and environmental safeguard policies for the investments of banks
- Withdraw all bank charges on banking services
The article, first published on the CounterView.net, can be accessed here.