As the Narendra Modi Government prepares the ground for reforms in public sector banks, with a blue print prepared by a group of senior bankers, finance ministry and RBI officials and a few experts, staffers of these banks led by their unions have threatened to derail any such plan unless they are also consulted before the proposed restructuring process kicks off.
Even as the chiefs of over two dozen public sector banks, senior finance ministry officials, the RBI Governor and other senior regulators and experts brainstormed over the weekend at a retreat on the way forward, unions representing both officers and other staffers in these banks were sore at being ignored in the consultation process.
Harvinder Singh general secretary of the All India Bank Officers Confederation which claims to represent 2.80 lakh officers of public sector banks, rural banks, co-operative and private banks said that staffers should be consulted before any decision is taken. “We are the public faces of the bank and as such are the major stake holders of banks. In case they try to push reforms without discussing with us we will oppose them,” he said.
The scenario is reminiscent of what happened during the first term of the UPA Government, when there was an attempt at consolidation in the banking industry. In fact, a merger between two state banks was discussed and was almost close to being cleared before the government decided not to pursue it in the face of political resistance. This time too, a similar attempt could face hurdles, bank employees have indicated.
Already, bank employees have announced a series of strikes starting January 7 to highlight their issues with the government especially decent wages. Singh alleged that the government was trying to push for massive privatisation in the name of reforms while going soft on wilful defaulters.
By Parthasarathi Biswas