Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, Sept 24

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has charged that the Centre is seeking to destabilise the banking industry under the cover of the ongoing reforms initiative.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Third General Council of the State Banks Staff Union (SBSU), Kerala Circle, here on Sunday, Mr Prafullakumar Patnaik, veteran trade union leader and UBFU Convenor, warned of a countrywide agitation to stop the Centre on its tracks.

Cooperation of fellow unions in the banking industry will be sought and public support galvanised before acting decisively in this direction. Mr Patnaik concurrently holds the charge of Secretary of the All India State Bank of India Staff Federation and General Secretary of National Confederation of Bank Employees.

The Centre's moves have affected the interests of not just the public sector banks, but also of some old private sector banks, which have been giving a good account of themselves in carrying out their social commitments admirably.

In this context, Mr Patnaik called into question the bona fides of the move to merge Lord Krishna Bank with Centurion Bank of Punjab.

`SBI TARGETED'

Even State Bank of India, which has a crucial role to play in the nation's economy, has been faced with a similar threat with the big private venture funds merely bidding time to put a price for a part of the share capital. "This is cause for a major worry, given that we are talking about a public sector bank, which made a net profit of Rs 4,406 crore during the last financial year alone," Mr Patnaik said.

Referring to long queues of customers lining up bank counters even after induction of technology, he said this bespoke the worrying shortage of staff. At least five lakh posts are lying vacant in the banking industry. Fresh recruitments are a must for it to sustain and prosper.

PROCESSION

The President, SBSU, Kerala Circle, Mr Raja Kurup, presided over the inaugural session. Among those who spoke were Mr John Joseph, General Secretary, SBSU; Mr Umesh P. Naik, President, State Banks' Staff Federation; Mr T. M. Prakash, General Convenor; and Mr P. Surendranath Bhas.

Earlier, employees of State Bank of India took out a procession to set the general council session rolling. Various union leaders from the State and All-India level lined the front row of the procession.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 25, 2006)
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