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Banking Bill: 27 PSU banks strike work

Mumbai/Bangalore/Chennai, Dec 20, 2012, DHNS: 22:18 IST
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Banking operations across the country were affected on Thursday as seven lakh bank employees and officers in 27 public sector banks including State Bank of India went on flash strike in response to the Lok Sabha clearing the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill.

Apparently, operations have been affected in those banks where these unions have a strong presence.

The strike notice served to Indian Banks Association by four bank unions participating in the flash strike were: All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) and National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).

In Mumbai, bank employees took out a massive strike rally at Azhad Maidan this afternoon expressing solidarity on the strike action to preserve the character of PSU banks and demand its expansion to spread across every village in the country as it has been proved that PSU banks are the backbone of India's economy, said General Secretary, Maharashtra State Bank Employees Union Vishwas Utagi said.

They also aver that there is an attempt to close down rural branches and resorting to large number of ultra small branches, thereby privatising rural banking operations via contractual business correspondent route, besides lack of stringent measures to recover increasing NPAs and bad loan.

The general secretary of All India Bank Employees Association Vishwas Utagi said, “We will oppose this move even after the Bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha. The merger of public sector banks, if it happens, will serve the interest of big corporates only. Entry of more private players will defeat financial inclusion and defeat its objective.”

While the Centre agreed to drop the two contentious clauses, of allowing banks to trade in futures and keep the sector outside the purview of Competition Commission (in the context of mergers), banks want some other clauses also to be dropped. These include dropping the clause that raises voting rights from 1 per cent to 10 per cent in public sector banks and lifts the cap on voting rights in private banks from 10 per cent to 26 per cent.

Utagi said that about 7 lakh employees belonging to the four Unions participated in the strike and added that they will also take up the wage revision issue as the earlier accord expired on October 31, 2012.

In Bangalore, hundreds of bank employees gathered at the Mysore Bank circle in protest apart from protests outside some of bank branches.

“The strike will continue if the government does not revisit the amendments,” an office-bearer of one of the associations said.

In Tamil Nadu, barring the State Bank of India (SBI), the strike by public sector and some ‘old’ private banks “total” on Thursday. About 35,000 bank employees struck work, “paralysing” a range of banking transactions including cash, clearing and money market operations, veteran spokesman for the PSU Bank Unions Venkatachalam said
“Our basic objection to the new Bill is that it increases the influence of private capital in our banking system, which can be very risky as Rs 70 lakh crores of public money lies with PSBs,” Venkatachalam added.

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