Reportedly nearly 3,00,000 employees of public sector banks went on strike on tuesday against government plans to consolidate the sector through mergers as part of efforts to ensure stronger balance sheets. Recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has vowed to cut the total number of state-owned banks to 12, from 27 in 2017, raising fears of job losses. Perhaps under the current round of squeezing, 10 banks will be amalgamated into four.
A release by the bank unions said "Government may call it a merger but in reality, it is cold-blooded murder of six banks". Furthermore the public sector banks account for nearly two-thirds of banking assets in the country and also have a lion's share in the nearly $150 billion of soured loans in the banking sector and hence the sector suffered from out of control lending in 2006-11 when the economy grew rapidly, and has continued to struggle. Furthermore employees stayed away from work across the country and joined in protest marches. Services such as cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque clearances, ATM operations were affected, according to bank employees.
Moreover General Secretary of the All india bank Employees Association (AIBEA) CH Venkatachalam said the plan was to expand the protest movement to other bank employees as well, taking it up to nearly a million workers to force the government to reconsider its decision and apparently a senior banker, however, said the protests would not derail the merger plans.