Union on stir against merger of SBI subsidiaries

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Bangalore, Dec 2: Over 47,500 employees of the associate banks of the State Bank of India(SBI) will observe a two-day strike from tomorrow, opposing the Centre's move to merge the banks.

Speaking to newspersons here today, State Bank of Mysore (SBM) Employees Union General Secretary M Anjani said the employees of SBM, State Bank of Bikaneer and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Indore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore would observe a strike opposing the SBI's move to merge its associate banks with it.

He said on December 4, over 24,000 officers under the banner of Associate Banks Officers Association (ABOA) in all the associate banks, including the State Bank of Saurashtra, would strike work.

When the erstwhile Indira Gandhi Government nationalised the SBI and its associate banks in 1959, the independent identity of the associate banks was protected under the State Bank of India (Subsidiary banks) Act 1959.

Despite several hurdles, the subsidiaries performed well, making profits and distributing dividends till date and ''in the last few years, the performance of these banks has been superior to that of SBI'' he claimed.

Mr Anjani said in July, recognising the difficulties faced by the subsidiaries, the law governing these banks was amended removing certain hurdles to enable them to be on a par with nationalised banks.

The SBI, which was encountering serious competition from the private sector ICICI Bank in becoming the country's premier banking institution, had conspired to effect the merger overriding the Parliament's recent enactment. ''The SBI is planning to merge these associate banks to utilise their assets for its own selfish ends and employees will not allow this to happen,'' he said.

If the merger becomes real, over 4,000 branches operating mostly in rural areas would face closure and employees might face displacement or retrenchment. ''The proposal will not serve any interests of customers, employees and public,'' he said.

UNI

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