SBI associate bank unions vow to intensify protests over merger

SBI associate bank unions vow to intensify protests over merger

As the question of merging associate banks with State Bank of India (SBI) gets contentious by the day, employees of the five associate banks are stepping up their opposition to the move.

While the last meeting of non-supervisory staff under the banner of the State Sector Bank Employees Union (SSBEA) was held on Saturday last in Bangalore, the next one will be held in Thiruvananthapuram outside SBT on July 20, according to SSBEA General Secretary N Venugopal.

The SSBEA represents employees of State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Travancore (SBT), State Bank of Patiala (SBP), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH) and State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ).

MD & GE (Associate and Subsidiaries) of SBI, S Vishvanathan, entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the report on the merger, told Deccan Herald, “We will formally talk to the employees once we reach a decisive stage; they are important stakeholders.”

Venugopal added, “We held meetings at the respective head offices of SBM, SBBJ, SBP, SBH earlier. We are strongly opposed to the merger.” He also said that at no point of time were discussions held by SBM Managing Director Sharad Sharma with bank unions on the merger issue.

He was referring to Sharma's statement to Deccan Herald this week that informal merger talks have been held with bank unions following which their support was gained for the merger plans.

In fact, officers of the five banks under the umbrella of the Associate Bank Officers' Association (ABOA) have their reservations on the issue. General Secretary of ABOA (SBH unit) Harshavardhan Madabhushi said, “When a big bank takes over a small bank, there are natural concerns of step-motherly treatment being meted out to the merged entity's employees.” He reiterated fears of bank employee unions that there will be rationalisation of branches post-merger, possibly leading to job losses.

However, another officer at an associate bank, on condition of anonymity, said that most officers are in favour of the merger taking place. “A majority of us are in favour of merger, but a negotiated one.”

SBI Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri had said last month that the proposed merger of its five associate banks with itself could start by September after the (Vishvanathan) committee submits its report on the same and that the process could start by September this year.

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