Today the entire Banking industry is paralysed. Almost 10 lakhs of Bank Employees including the Officers, and the Managers commenced their two days nation wide strike at the call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions. The Strike was not for the economic demands of the Employees. The strike of 9 Unions Viz., AIBEA, AIBOC, NCBE, AIBOA, BEFI, INDEF, INBOC, NOBW AND NOBO is to save the Public Sector Banks from take over by private Corporates. As the Bank Unions have stated the strike is to save the hard earned savings of the people of our country. Many of the Govt. Pensioners have deposited their terminal benefits and receiving their monthly pension only through the public sector banks.
The Defence Civilian Employees strongly feels that privatization of public sector banks is a negative step in a developing country like India. They are convinced that privatization of
banks would risk their savings as many private banks in the past have collapsed and lost their savings. The private banks will never entertain the poor and the needy people for giving
loans. The private bankers will aim only more and more profit. Even today the service charges are more in private banks when compared to public sector banks.
Why the Trade Unions, Left political parties and people of the country are against privatization. After all prior to independence banks in our country were totally in private sector. These private banks utilised the public money for developing their own business and earning profit. They never come forward to help in the process of National Economical Development and also helping the poor, especially the Farmers. Therefore a movement was started under the leadership of All India Bank Employees Association to nationalize all these private banks. After lot of struggle resulting in victimization and sacrifice the then Prime Minster Late Indira Gandhi, nationalised in 1969 14 major banks. The country has celebrated 50 years of Bank ationalization.
The public Sector banks opened thousands of branches in the rural areas and small villages taking banking service to the door of the poor people. People deposited their savings in public sector banks, because they have faith in the public sector banks. Public sector banks have started giving loans to all important sectors of the economy like Agriculture, Exports, Employment generation, rural development, Health & Education, Infrastructure, Small & Medium Industries etc.
Banks are one of the important institutions generating employment. Being Public Sector reservation in jobs for the socially and economically down trodden youth is mandatory. Once banks are privatized all the bank jobs will be outsourced and contractarised. Job Security will not be there. Reservation policy will not be made applicable to the private banks.
The net result is privatization will only benefit rich corporate houses and ultimately they will purchase all these banks. As all of us know many corporate houses are defaulters of huge bank loans and there is a risk of such defaulters overnight becoming the owners of these banks. The AIBEA has exposed the statement of the Government that some of the public sector banks are running in losses. The fact is that all public sector banks are earning profits. Some of the banks are being shown as on loss because of the bad loans given to the Corporate houses.
Instead of taking action on the defaulters and recovering the loan the Government is keen only to write-off and grant concession to these Corporate defaulters. Many private sector banks are at the verge of collapse. Last year Yes Bank came in to serious problem, because of the timely help from SBI and others, the Yes Bank is saved. With all these experience, still the Government wants to privatise the Nationalised Banks.
Why the Defence Civilian Employees are supporting the bank strike? They are also a victim of the Govt. policy of Privatisation. The present Government has taken a decision to declare more than 275 Defence Equipments being manufactured in the Ordnance Factories under the Ministry of Defence as non-core and all those items are handed over to private corporate. Due to this development out of 41 Ordnance Factories, 25 Ordnance Factories are suffering without work. In the past also the Armed Forces have gone to the private sector for defence equipments and miserably failed. Ultimately the Army suffered with short supply of Defence Equipments and whatever supplied by the private sector was also not matching the quality requirements.
Subsequently the Army has to return back to the Ordnance Factories. When the whole country was in lockdown it was the Ordnance Factories and its employees who worked day and night for manufacturing and supplying the PPEs to fight against the COVID-19 virus. Adding salt to the wound, the Govt. has now decided to convert the 41 Ordnance Factories in to a Corporation and then to sell it. Army Base Workshops are being handed over to Private Corporates. No sectors in Defence including DRDO, DGQA and MES is spared by the Government. The Defence Employees are already in the battle field against privatization. Therefore it is the moral responsibility of the Defence Civilian Employees to support the national movement against privatization. The Defence Civilian Employees stands shoulder to shoulder with the Bank Employees, GIC Employees, LIC Employees and all public sector employees, Railway employees who are fighting against the evil design of priviatisation. Defence Civilian Employees and all Central Government Employees are preparing for more intensified struggle against corporatisation, privatization, outsourcing and closure.
Views expressed here are those of C.Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF and convener of Public Sector Unions of AITUC