People's Democracy

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


No. 25

June 21, 2009


BEFI Protests Merger Moves


THE Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) has taken strong note of the press reports that the new government at the centre has asked the public sector banks (PSBs) to go for merger and acquisition in order �to improve competitiveness of Indian banks globally and also to reduce the risk to financial stability.� Simultaneously, the BEFI has also noted that Mr O P Bhatt, chairman of the State Bank of India (SBI), is reported to have asserted that once the government gives the signal, the remaining 6 associate banks would be merged with the SBI within the next 3 to 6 months.


In a statement issued by its general secretary Pradip Biswas on June 11, the BEFI has reminded that it, as also the entire bank employees and officers fraternity under the banner of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), has all along been opposing the merger and acquisition of the PSBs  in the name of achieving competitiveness and/or financial stability. The statement pointed out that the BEFI  is of the considered opinion that financial stability of Indian PSBs is far better than any global financial giant. This was squarely vindicated during the recent financial meltdown when almost all the major players in the US and other western countries crushed like nine pins and had to be either doled out by the public exchequer or taken over, fully or partially, by the respective governments. On the other hand, Indian PSBs withstood the crisis on their own, and remained firm without any help from the government. In regard to facing the competition too, the performance of our PSBs is far better than any foreign bank, on any yardstick and, given the level playing ground, they are capable of performing still better.


As part of the bank employees� trade union movement, the statement said the BEFI has been fighting against such pernicious moves of the successive governments at the centre since the early 1990s --- first of the Congress government and then by the NDA and UPA governments. These moves, the BEFI says, are aimed at eventual privatisation of the PSBs. But the bank employees� relentless struggles for almost two decades, strengthened by the active support of the Left parties both inside and outside the parliament, stalled the neo-liberal financial sector reforms programme, including the merger and acquisition of the PSBs. It is thus that our PSBs still retain their nationalised character that helped the Indian financial sector to withstand the global financial crisis.


The BEFI statement reiterated the organisation�s commitment to carry on with its struggle and fight such evil designs of the government in the days ahead. Bank employees have so far observed not less than 12 days of strike against such privatisation and merger moves, and the BEFI�s hope is that the government would not compel it to add to that number. It has also expressed confidence that, as earlier, the Left parties will stand by it in our struggle in the days ahead. (INN)