The Centre’s move to sell IDBI Bank to private players is not in the “right direction” and will be opposed “tooth and nail” by the All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) according to its General Secretary, S Nagarajan.

Speaking to BusinessLine on the rationale behind the call for bank strike on March 28 and 29, 2022, Nagarajan said the need of the hour is not privatisation; it is to strengthen the bank further, along with an exercise to recover sticky loans from wilful defaulters. 

“As the bank gradually overcomes its non-performing assets (NPAs) crisis, pulling down the institution is not in the right direction,’‘ he said. 

It may be recalled that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman had announced in the Budget speech that LIC would be directed to withdraw its 51 per cent stake in IDBI Bank in one go and the Government of India will also divest its 46 per cent stake. 

Merger impact
S Nagarajan, General Secretary, AIBOA  

S Nagarajan, General Secretary, AIBOA  

The merger and consolidation of public sector banks is shrinking their “well-managed” customer space which is mainly engaged in the service of the common people and the poor, Nagarajan said, adding, “Private sector banks are gradually taking over the market space being vacated by public sector banks without any valid reason. Over 5,000 public sector bank branches have been closed due to mergers in the last three years.’‘

Neither banks not the government has carried out any study on the ill-effects of the merger of public sector banks on the financial system, he said. 

Further demands
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Demand charter includes stopping privatisation and scrapping the NMP, increased allocation for MNREGA, and extension of employment guarantee scheme to urban areas.  

The other demands of the AIBOA and associations supporting its two-day bandh call are implementation of the five-day week for banks, upgradation of the pension scheme, facility of child care leave, restoration of the old pension scheme, and removal of the anomaly in dearness allowance (DA) between LIC and bank employees.

AIBOA has also extended its solidarity to central trade unions other independent federations in opposing the privatisation of PSUs and sale of their assets, among others. 

Scheduled meeting

The representatives of AIBOA are scheduled to meet government officials on March 25 to discuss their demands ahead of the strike. If the talks are not conclusive, over three lakh bank employees will strike work on March 28 and 29, 2022, which could paralyse the banking system.