Gold loan lender Muthoot Finance , which is bearing the brunt of the strike by a section of workers in Kerala, has scotched rumours that it will close down branches outside the State, saying that “such reports are purely untrue, baseless, and with mala fide intention by some unethical players”.

“We have closed down a few branches to optimise our operations,” the company said. It has chalked out extensive branch expansion plans across the country.

The company will open a few more branches to strengthen its operations, branch network, and to serve the increasing demand from customers. The management response comes in the wake of reports circulating on social media platforms on the issue of the purported move to close down branches outside the State.

Asked about the decision to close down around 43 branches across Kerala, a company spokesman said these branches will continue to function for the next three months to enable customers close their loan accounts and get back their pledged ornaments.

Arrangements have been made for closure of loans and the release of gold ornaments pledged will be intimated to customers.

Investors in the privately-placed debentures will be intimated individually of the procedure to receive interest/redemption on maturity.

However, it said the strike by Non-Banking and Private Finance Employees Association since August 20 has affected the functioning of 300 of its 615-odd branches in Kerala. The ongoing protest had impacted the business, which had come down to 4 per cent from 10 per cent in Kerala, while it reported record business growth in other States.

No hike in salaries

The striking employees said that workers with many years of experience were drawing salaries of around ₹12,000.

Lack of job security, sales-oriented pressure, and closure of several branches in 2016 had led to the formation of the union led by CITU.

Several representations made to the management to address all these issues were turned down, they alleged.