Thursday, August 24, 2017

Strike paralyses banking operations

Mumbai, August 22:  Banking operations in public sector banks, old generation private sector banks and regional rural banks across the country were hit on Tuesday as about 10 lakh employees went on a one-day strike to oppose, among others, amalgamation among public sector banks and their privatisation, and to demand tough measures against large loan defaulters.
The United Forum of Bank Unions, the umbrella union of trade unions, plans to intensify its agitation by calling for a two-day strike either in October or November if its concerns are not addressed, according to union representatives.
With the aforementioned banks accounting for about 75 per cent of the total banking business in the country, cheque-clearing operations were severely impacted. Besides, cash transactions could not be carried out as usual and government treasury transactions could not be put through as branches were closed down.
C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association, said in most of the places, clearing operations, particularly outward clearing, were badly affected. Normally, in the three clearing grids in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, on an average, about 40 lakh cheques and instruments worth about Rs. 20,000 crore are transacted per day.
“The government’s denial of adequate capital to public sector banks is creating conditions for privatisation. This would mean privatising the Rs. 80 lakh crore of common people’s money available in our banks. This is dangerous for the country and our people. Privatisation of banks would also result in denial of loans to priority sectors like agriculture, rural development, education, etc.,” he said.
Similarly, at a time when the country needs more banking services, the government is talking of consolidation, amalgamation and merger of banks, the trade union leader said, and added that bank mergers would result in closure of bank branches as is happening in SBI now after the merger of associate banks.
Loan defaulters
Given that the banking industry is reeling under bad loans, S Nagarajan, General Secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Association, emphasised that the industry has to be saved from the clutches of loan defaulters. Sanjay Manjrekar, General Secretary, Syndicate Bank Officers Association, said instead of hauling the large loan defaulters over the coals, the common depositor is being unfairly penalised by banks in the form of cuts in deposit rates and higher charges. The government should allow banks to take criminal action against the defaulters.
Pointing out that there are about 7,000 wilful defaulters, Venkatachalam felt that they should be termed as criminal offenders and tough criminal action taken. “But the government is suggesting litigation route/insolvency cases by which money due to the banks will not be recovered, rather there would be huge sacrifices and write-offs. “In the last five years, from 2013 to 2017, banks have written off nearly Rs. 2.50 lakh crore of loans due from these defaulters. This is diversion of people’s money to benefit the rich people,” he said.
Chennai, August 22: Ten lakhs bank employees and officers all over the country working in more than a lakh of branches of public sector, private sector and regional rural banks struck work today opposing to privatise PSBs, merger and consolidation of PSBs, writing off corporate NPAs, FRDI (Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance) Bill, Banks Board Bureau, passing on the burden of corporate NPAs on bank customers by hiking service charges, increasing service charges in the name of GST and demanding declaration of wilful default of Bank loans as criminal offence, implementation of recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on recovery of NPAs, ensuring accountability of Top Management/ Executives for bad loans and stringent measures to recover bad loans and adequate recruitment in all cadres, under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella organisation of 9  workmen and officers unions.
The bilateral discussions held by Indian Banks Association on 16th August at Mumbai and the Tripartite conciliation meeting held on 18th August at New Delhi convened by Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) yielded no result as the Government and the Bank Managements were adamant and not ready to resolve any of the issues raised by the Unions and Associations.
There is a concerted attempt on the part of Government of India to write off lakhs of crores of rupees to the corporate loan defaulters using some method or the other and the same is cited as inefficiency of public sector banks and these PSBs are attempted to be either privatized or even liquidated through executive orders or enactments in the parliament. If the PSBs are privatised, it will ruin the fundamentals of the economy and have a cascading effect on the lives of common man who entirely depend on PSBs to improve their standard of living and to safe guard their hard earned small savings. That is why the Bank employees and officers are resolutely opposing the machinations of the Government, Reserve Bank and the top bankers to weaken the public sector banks.
Today lakhs bank employees and officers participated in the demonstrative programs held in more than 600 centres. In Tamilnadu demonstrations were held in more than 50 centres including  Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Vellore, Kanchipuram and Puducherry.
In Chennai more than 3,000 bank employees and officers took part in demonstration held near Collector office, North Beach road. The demonstration was chaired by Thomas Franco convener UFBU Tamilnadu. C H Venkatachalam, S M Selvaraj, R Sekaran, M A Srinivasan, K Krishnan and Manish Kumar spoke on the occasion.
In Tamilnadu more than 7,000 branches of commercial and Regional Rural banks remained closed and about 70,000 employees and officers participated in the strike. Around 12 lakhs instruments amounting to Rupees 7,300 crores remained un-cleared. We seek the support of the public to this patriotic struggle to protect the public sector banks.
C P Krishnan General Secretary Bank Employees Federation of India said: if the Government still remains adamant, there is no option for the UFBU but to intensify the struggles

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