CHENNAI: The banks' merger proposal by the Centre has angered the bank employees here and they held a 'gate' demonstration on Saturday to express their protest.
Members of the All India Bank Employees' Association staged a protest here against the Centre's decision to merge 10 public sector banks into four entities.
Employees of several public and private sector banks including the Syndicate Bank staff wore black badges as a mark of protest against the government's decision. On Friday, the United Forum of Bank Unions called for demonstrations across the country on Aug. 31 and accordingly members staged a protest. The United Forum of Bank Unions comprises of four officers unions and five non-officers' unions, and represents a million bank employees.
C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of All-India Bank Employees Union (AIBEA), who termed the proposed bank mergers “ill-timed wrong decisions,” said that the biggest problem with the banking industry today is that of non-performing loans. He wondered if the merger could bring the NPAs down.
Another leader pointed out that the large size of the bank is no guarantee against its failure, as witnessed in the fall of Lehmann Brothers in 2008. Even the merger of State Bank of India with its erstwhile associate banks could not prevent it from reporting losses, he noted.
The bank unions have proposed to meet in the national capital on Sept. 11 to decide on the future course of action. The BJP government at the Centre had on Friday unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four, to create fewer and stronger global-sized bankers as it looks to revive economic growth. As per the merger proposal - Punjab National Bank, Canara bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank, United Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Andhra Bank would be merged.
Government might call it a merger but six banks which have been built up over the years will disappear from the banking scenario, Venkatachalam said.
Hailing the merger plans, Tamil Official Language and Culture Minister K. Pandiarajan described it is a good attempt. “The merger will ensure an opportunity to our banks to establish their footprints abroad and become successful banking institutions,” he said and cited the amalgamation of Pallavan Grama Bank and Pandyan Grama Bank to form the Tamil Nadu Grama Bank which has become a vibrant banking institution in rural TN.
“Prior to the merger these banks were weak but after they became one under Tamil Nadu Grama Bank, the bank became number one in the country. This was because of the amalgamation,” he said and exuded confidence that the merger of ten public sector banks into four entities, will make them emerge as vibrant institutions. The move will also facilitate the stronger banks to provide salaries to the employees of weak banks.
“It is for the Centre to allay the apprehensions of the bank employees that the merger could reduce the workforce,” the minister added.