New Delhi: Public sector banks (PSBs) in India under the umbrella body of Union Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) of nine unions have called for a two-day strike on March 15 and March 16 as a mark of protest against the proposed privatisation of two major state-owned lenders by the central government. Also Read - Air India to be 100% Privatised by May-end, Choice Between Disinvestment or Closing Down: Hardeep Puri
In the Union Budget presented last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the privatisation of two Public Sector Banks (PSBs) as part of its disinvestment plan. It has already privatised IDBI Bank by selling its majority stake in the lender to LIC in 2019 and merged 14 public sector banks in the last four years. Also Read - CBI Conducts Searches at 100 Locations Across 11 States in Separate Bank Fraud Cases
Moreover, public sector lender Canara Bank said that banking services across the country may get affected due to the proposed strike. Also Read - Amid Bank Strike, FM Sitharaman Assures Not All Banks Will be Privatised
“We have been informed by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) that the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has given a call for strike in the banking industry on March 15 and March 16, for issues relating to industry level and not for any bank-level issues,” Canara Bank said in a regulatory filing.
“However, in the event of strike materialising, the functioning of the branches/offices may be impacted,” it added.
Canara Bank, however, clarified that it was taking necessary steps to ensure smooth functioning of its bank branches and offices.
Why are bank unions protesting?
Not just the privatisation of banks, the bank unions are opposing the government’s decision to allow all private-sector lenders in the government-related business.
The All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) also said the decision to lift the embargo on private sector banks to have access to the government’s business is “unfair” and needs to be withdrawn.
All private sector banks can now participate in government-related businesses like collection of taxes, pension payments and small savings schemes, the finance ministry said in the Budget.
However, at present, only a few private-sector lenders are allowed to conduct government-related business.
Which bank unions are protesting?
Members of UFBU include All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI).
Others among the unions that have called a strike are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).