More than 10,000 bank employees and officers from across the country marched from Ramlila Grounds to Parliament on September 15, 2017.
They were marching to protest the anti-people banking reforms being implemented by successive governments post-liberalisation and not taking corrective measures to get rid of the bad loans which pose a threat to the entire banking sector of the country. They also demanded the immediate withdrawal of the FRDI Bill, introduced in the parliament in the last session.
K K Nair, Chairman of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), the organiser of the march, highlighted the contribution of the PSBs in the country since independence and said that even as recent as in 2008, PSBs saved India from facing economic meltdown. He stated that because of the Non-Performing Assets, which stands today at around 14 lakh crore, threatens the entire banking system in the country. He further said that the out of these 14 lakh crores, 8.5 lakh crore is owned only by 89 accounts holders, which includes Reliance, Adani, Videocon, Essar, among others. Raising the issue of accountability, he said small officers get punished when loans are not repaid, however, when the large borrowers’ default, Board of the banks, which approves these loans goes scot-free. He demanded that the criminal action is taken against the board members of the banks and the borrowers.
Comrade C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary of AIBEA, raised the issue of banking mergers and said that across the world it had been seen that the large banks are more susceptible to the defaults due to their loan exposure. He also demanded to initiate criminal proceedings against willful defaulters. Due to the bank mergers, the government is shutting down the branches in a country with a low density of the banks. He emphasised that the India needs good banks and not big banks.
The Morcha ended up with a massive rally on the parliament street which was addressed by UFBU leadership as also leaders of Central Trade Unions and Com. Tapan Sen, MP, CPIM, Com. D Raja, MP, CPI, Arvind Sawant, MP, Shiv Sena, Digvijay Singh, MP, Congress I, Sharad Yadav, MP, JDU, Com. Sitaram Yenchuri, CPIM.
The representatives of agitating unions later met Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister to hand over the memorandum on their demands — opposing privatisation and Bank consolidation by the mergers and to adopting stringent measures to recover large corporate NPAs. They also threatened to intensify the struggle if the Government doesn’t come out with conciliatory approach.