Hyderabad: According to unions, more than 90,000 bank employees and officers working in around 8,000 branches of public sector banks (PSBs) in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana boycotted their work and participated in protests during the two-day strike on March 15-16 against the privatisation of public sector banks. The protest was called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), a joint platform of multiple bank associations.
On Monday, the first day of the strike, the bank employees were joined by trade unions and farmers’ organisations in their protest demonstrations across the two Telugu states. Workers and farmers’ organisations held protest demonstrations across the two states against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government’s attempts to privatise the public sector.
This is an unique agitation to save the public sector banks from the BJP government, said BS Rambabu, UFBU convenor for the Telugu States. Rambabu, who is also the national secretary of All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), said that the two day nation-wide strike sends a strong warning to the government that the employees are united against privatisation. “If corporates take over PSBs, they will use the deposits from common people for garnering profits. People from vulnerable sections will be severely impacted if PSBs are privatised,” he said.
“The BJP government is planning to hand over Rs 150 lakh crore of public money in PSBs to the defaulting corporates. With privatisation, agriculture, education and MSME (Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises) sector will be drastically hit,” said Chandrashekar, an SBI officer in Vijayawada.
Also see: Bank Strike: Thousands of Employees Reach Jantar Mantar on 2nd Day
Left parties, trade unions and civil society organisations have supported the bank employees’ strike across districts and mandals in both the Telugu states. Massive rallies were held in Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Vijayawada, Guntur and several other districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Bankers held massive public meetings in the premises of State Bank of India (SBI) in Hyderabad’s Koti and near SBI Zonal Office in Secunderabad on Monday and Tuesday.
“Privatisation of PSBs and public sector units is BJP’s attempt to stop the reservation benefits in employment for SCs, STs and OBCs,” said Ravi Naik of Telangana Girijana Sangham. Naik joined the protest in Miryalaguda town of Nalgonda District.
Addressing a protest gathering in Secunderabad’s Patny Centre, Sai Babu, Telangana Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) secretary said that the workers will always support the employees fight against privatisation.
“With the government’s policy of merging PSBs, the number of banks in rural India has come down. If banks are privatised, it is the common people who will suffer the most due to the profit making mindset of the corporates,” said Bikshamayya, a bank employee in Visakhapatnam.
Meanwhile, protests against privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant have intensified in Andhra Pradesh.
Bank employees have held sit-in protests in front of major bank offices while displaying placards and posters explaining the negative impact of privatisation of PSBs on common people.
“We are not against the private banks but against the privatisation of PSBs. PSBs have been successfully implementing all the central and state government schemes thereby benefiting the poorer sections of people. The banking reforms that the BJP government is trying to impose on the people will turn disastrous for the country,” said Rambabu.
Also read: Public Sector Banks Closed on 2nd Day of Strike Against Privatisation