Bank privatisation: talk with govt fails; Unions to go ahead with strike; employees get warning letters

The meeting that lasted for hours failed to reach any conclusion because the govt reportedly did not give any assurance on the introduction of the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill

Bank privatisation: talk with govt fails; Unions to go ahead with strike; employees get warning letters
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Vishwadeepak

After the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) – an umbrella body of nine unions announced a two-day nationwide strike on December 16-17, the Modi government – which recently repealed farm laws under pressure – proposed ‘reconciliation’ with the Bank Unions, following which a high-level meeting was held in Delhi on December 8.

However, the meeting that lasted for hours failed to reach any conclusion because the government did not give any assurance on the introduction of the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, said a source who was present in the meeting.

Representatives of various bank unions have multiple times asked the Modi government not to go ahead with the Bill which will eventually pave the way for the privatisation of public sector banks in India.

National Herald reported last week that due to settlement of bad loans in favor of 13 big corporates, public sector banks have incurred a loss of over 2 lakh 84 thousand crores in the last two years. And despite protest from trade unions, the Modi government has included the Bill in the agenda of the winter session.


Speaking to NH, CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said that the unions were even ready to recall the strike, but representatives of the government involving the Finance Ministry and the Labor Ministry did not give any assurance. Moreover, they termed the pre-scheduled strike as ‘unwarranted’.

“Since there is no assurance from the government or from the IBA not to bring the Bill in the current Session of the Parliament, it has been decided that we will go ahead with the strike on December 16th and 17th”, added Venkatachalam.

CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary,  AIBEA addressing bank employees in Delhi
CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA addressing bank employees in Delhi

SC Joshi, additional Chief Labor Commissioner of India was also present in the meeting. Meanwhile, in an attempt to cut down the impact of the nationwide strike, Union Bank issued a letter to all employees, warning them of action if they take part in the strike. NH has learned that several other public sector banks have issued similar warning letters. Dated December 2, after the announcement for the nationwide strike was made by the UBF, the Union Bank letter reminds its employees of their contract and the nature of the jobs.

Bank privatisation: talk with govt fails; Unions to go ahead with strike; employees get warning letters

Warning that those who will take part in the strike will not be entitled to allowance and salary for that particular day, Union Bank, in the letter, said that the management will hold employees accountable.

“All employees hereby are cautioned that their participating in the proposed strike on 16.12.2021 and 17.12.2021 would amount to a breach of their contract of service and the Bank will be constrained to take suitable action besides withholding od salary and emoluments,” reads the letter.

Apparently, issuing warning letter to the employees by the Union Bank, has created more anger than fear among employees.

A Canara Bank employee who did not wish to be named said that the “blind privatisation policy followed by the government is not a solution to the crisis the banking sector of India is going through”.

The problem lies somewhere else, the employee said, referring to the bad loans and extravagant spending by the govt.

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