Bank staff seek to ensure job security after privatization
The plan to privatize two public lenders has cast a veil of sadness on bank workers who fear the loss of jobs and pensions, with unions promising indefinite strikes to counter any unfavorable announcements. People who have joined state-owned banks with job security in mind believe that while mergers have largely not led to job losses, privatization will.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the Union’s FY22 budget that the government will reduce its stake in two public sector banks except IDBI Bank. True, she said in March that privatization would not harm the interests of workers.
Although the government has yet to nominate a bank to privatize, various press reports have named the Central Bank of India, the Overseas Bank of India and the Bank of Maharashtra as likely candidates.
“We’re not sure what’s going on. I have a colleague who quit a cushy job to come and work at the bank and is now worried about losing his job, “said a banker at one of the three lenders mentioned above. Several bank employees have died. during both waves of covid-19 and now the lack of clarity on jobs is quite frustrating, he said.
Others said privatization would be unfair to those who joined these banks given the benefits of being in the public sector. Changing the structure of these institutions, they said, would make it difficult for many to adapt to them.
“Many employees fear that even if there is no direct layoff, there could be large voluntary retirement programs, pushing people to leave,” said Devidas Tuljapurkar, president of the United Forum of Banking Unions ( UFBU), an organization that oversees nine banks. unions.
Tuljapurkar believes that attempts could also be made to outsource several jobs, which would lead to layoffs in office positions. “Although officers do not bear the brunt of such measures, clerical jobs are in great danger if privatization is implemented,” he said.
“For now, we are relying on what the Minister of Finance said a few months ago and awaiting clarification from the government. However, I must mention that in case the program is detrimental to the employees, we will go on an indefinite strike unless these measures are rescinded, ”said CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association. .
Concern is also brewing among some of the employees about the role played by the banking unions in these uncertain times. However, Venkatachalam believes that while previous turmoil failed to block bank mergers, it allowed for harmonization of employee terms of service after the merger. The rate at which bank branches have closed due to mergers has also slowed, he said.
Experts said that privatization will face challenges. Rating agency Fitch said political support for required legislative changes could be a significant hurdle.
“There could also be more resistance from the unions this time around. The unions will be against the removal of the safety net of state property. The success of the plan would also require sufficient interest on the part of investors keen to acquire significant stakes in public banks and to manage them, ”he said in a report on June 7.
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