People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 26

July 06 , 2008


BEFI Condemns Tirade Against TU Movement

THE Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) has strongly condemned the anti-public sector banks remarks of O P Bhatt, chairman of the premier public sector bank in the country, State Bank of India (SBI).

In a statement issued on June 17, 2008, BEFI pointed out the remarks made by Bhatt in the course of a panel discussion organised by the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad on June 13, 2008. He has reportedly lamented the obligation of shouldering many social, macro-economic objectives such as financial inclusion, agri-lending targets, implementation of government schemes etc. and termed these as hindrances. BEFI stated that while the extent and success in shouldering such social obligations should be the yardstick for measuring the success of a public sector bank like SBI, its chairman was lamenting about it. “We strongly condemn the public outburst of Bhatt in favour of private entrepreneur, whose primary objective is to maximize profit even at the cost of the national economy. He has forfeited the moral authority to head a public sector undertaking”, the statement asserted.

Regarding his remarks against organised trade union movement, BEFI stated “We are not surprised even a bit at Bhatt's tirade against organised trade union movement which is a stumbling block to mortgaging the national economy to private capital, national and foreign, much to the chagrins of the likes of Bhatt. More than rupees one hundred thousand crore of bad loans, euphemistically called 'non-performing assets', that ails the public sector banks in India today, is not the creation of any trade union but of those elements whose brief the likes of Bhatt hold. In the practice of discipline, in the matter of responsible behaviour and in upholding the interests of the country, trade unions are second to none.”

Taking a dig at the SBI chairman, BEFI felt he might have been enthused by the presence of Professor Raghuram Rajan, chairman, Committee of Financial Sector Reforms, government of India, whose report recommends a terminal attack on the public sector financial institutions including the public sector banks.

BEFI pointed out that trade unions in India have been demanding nationalisation of banks since mid-fifties of the last century, and have been most vocal and active in achieving the objectives of nationalisation of banks since 1969. They are now fighting to save the public sector banks. BEFI was clear that the trade union movement needs no schooling from the likes of Bhatt when interests of the public sector banks are at stake. It called for the top-echelons of public sector banks to refrain from anti-public sector talk.