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Banking services to be affected across India as bank unions go on strike

The bank unions have called for a strike to protest against the merger of Bank of Baroda (BoB), Dena Bank, and Vijaya Bank. The merger of these three banks was approved by the government in September this year.

Banking services across India could be severely affected, as members of Indian Banks Association (IBA) go on a strike to protest the merger of public sector banks and bipartite wage settlement.

The All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) and United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) have called for strikes on December 21 and December 26, respectively.

The bank unions have called for a strike to protest against the merger of Bank of Baroda (BoB), Dena Bank, and Vijaya Bank. The merger of these three banks was approved by the government in September this year.

Ashwani Rana, the vice president of National Organisation of Bank Workers, has said all unions under UFBU will take part in the strikes. The UFBU is an umbrella body comprising of 9 employee and officer unions.

The AIBOC has also written an appeal for rescinding the proposed merger of the PSBs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The letter questioned the capability of the merged entity: "In the issue of merger of Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda and Dena Bank we find this is pertinent to mention here for greater clarity that NPA (%) has reached a whopping 24.9% (Rs. 16,361 crore) in respect of Dena Bank, while it is 13.2% (Rs 56,480 crore) and 6.5% (Rs 7,526 crore) for Bank of Baroda and Vijaya Bank respectively as at 31st March 2018," it said.

"The question that naturally comes knocking is how does creating a new bank with bad loan ratio of 24.9 % (Dena Bank) and 13.2% (Bank of Baroda) respectively genuinely helps any one? On the contrary it will pull down the performance of Vijaya Bank. What it does is that it sweeps under the carpet the bad state of Dena Bank and BoB," the letter added.

The bank unions feel that the mergers of these three banks will also lead to job cuts in the banking sector, apart from allowing private sector banks to dominate the industry.

"Bank mergers in Indian scenario will eventually lead to decline in job opportunities, youth unemployment, lack of systematic job profiles with huge pendency of disparate work processes among merged banks and entities, huge debt ridden NPAs. Post-merger consolidation in India will open flood gates for foreign or private sector banks to inundate the Indian banking sector with cut throat competitive attitude while completely ignoring the social obligation and responsibilities coupled with obvious and absolute disregard towards socio-economic role," the letter said.

The AIBOC strike on December 20 is also against Indian Banks' Associations (IBA) move to leave officers of scale IV and above out of the bipartite wage settlement scope.