10 lakh bankers to strike work on Dec 26 against mergers

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Chennai (IANS) With the failure of conciliation talks, about 10 lakh bankers in private and government banks will go on strike on December 26 protesting against the merger of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank, and Vijaya Bank, the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) said on Thursday.

"During the conciliation meeting held in Delhi today (Thursday), the Additional Chief Labour Commissioner advised the three banks and IBA (Indian Banks Association) to hold negotiations with the unions and convey the Union's concerns to the government," AIBEA General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam told IANS.

"No assurance came from either IBA or the government. Hence the conciliation talks failed and the December 26 strike stands," Venkatachalam added.

The AIBEA is part of the nine unions in the banking sector under the umbrella body of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).

According to Venkatachalam, the strike was only against the bank mergers and there was no deadlock on the wage revision talks with IBA.

India is largely unbanked or underbanked with a low density of banks. Mergers will kill bank branches while the focus should be on recovering the huge outstanding loans, the AIBEA said.

With Christmas on December 25, banks would effectively be closed for two days, affecting the banking public.

Though the bankers had wanted the strike on December 24, a Monday, for a bigger impact as the banks would then be closed for four consecutive days (December 22-25), the unions decided to strike on December 26 to lessen the impact on the public.

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