‘Nationalise Private Banks’ Resounds All India Bank Employees Conference
The conference rally started from YMCA grounds to the conference venue at Egmore.
The 11th all-India Conference of the Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) resoundingly insisted on the nationalisation of private banks. The conference held in Chennai, from August 12 to 14 also demanded criminal action against corporate entities that default on bank loans.
More than 600 delegates and representatives of public sector banks, private banks, rural banks, cooperative banks, the Reserve Bank of India and NABARD banks from 23 states participated in the conference. They discussed the major issues faced by the banking sector and passed resolutions to fight them.
Speaking to media persons on behalf of the conference, Debashish Basu Chaudhury, former general secretary of BEFI, said, “Union government is weakening public sector banks as it did with BSNL and Air India.”
“Banks were saved from the global economic recession 2008 because they were in the public sector. The privately owned banks in America, the assets of Silicon Bank and First Republic Bank, are 35 lakh crores, and both went bankrupt. Even after this, the Union government is pushing to privatise public sector banks,” he said.
He further said, “The Union government is trying to commercialise the state-owned cooperative banks. This will create a dangerous effect. Rural banks provide 90% of loans to rural people, and 49% of them are trying to sell their shares to private individuals. This will defeat the purpose of creating rural banks.”
The conference began with a rally on August 12, and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) All India general secretary Tapan Sen inaugurated the conference. He said, “The fight to protect public sector banks is a fight to protect a self-reliant economy.”
Tapan Sen addressing the inaugural session.
“Economic policies in favour of international financial capital pose a major challenge to the trade union movement, and the present government is working against the noble purpose for which banks were nationalised,” he said.
All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) president P K Sreemathy spoke at the women’s conference on August 13.
The conference passed resolutions against the neoliberal policies, against the divisive policies of the union government, for the protection of banks and their employees, to fill vacancies, and to nationalise private banks.
Regarding criminal action against corporate entities that default on bank loans, the resolution passed in the conference read, “The bailout policy that supports large companies that willfully default must be reformed, and a transparent policy must be issued to ensure full recovery of loans.” The conference resolved to continue with more determination in the fight against looters of people’s money and miscreants in public sector banks.
“Outsiders do all the banking work, and unemployment has increased, but the government refuses to fill the more than 5 lakh vacancies in the banking sector, observed the Conference. About 6 lakh brokers who do all the work, like bank employees, are paid a meagre sum of Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per month. All temporary and casual employees working in banks should be made permanent, and the 12th bilateral agreement should be implemented quickly,” speakers resolved at the Conference.
P K Sreemathy addressing the special women’s conference.
Maternity leave for women should be increased to two years, bank employees should be given leave to take care of children like Union government employees and the provision of leave for women during menstruation.
It was also resolved that RBI should be ensured to function autonomously with independent charters, RBI should develop a new policy to strengthen banks and other financial institutions to serve people seamlessly. The Union Government has confiscated RBI reserves, observed the delegates. Many banks like NABARD are undervalued.
Many other resolutions were passed, such as the funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme should be increased, the minimum salary should be fixed at Rs 26,000 with Dearness Allowance (DA) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) on various goods should be reduced.
Moreover, they urged that ATM charges and fines for non-minimum balances are extorting from customers, and to prevent this, customer service should be improved.
An executive committee of 80 members was elected at the BEFI conference. S S Anil was elected president, Debashish Basu Chaudhary as general secretary and Sandeep Paul as the treasurer.
Ahead of the conference, on August 11, a seminar was organised. Kisan Sabha leader Ashok Dhawale spoke on the advent of communalism as the biggest danger for the secular, democratic republic of India. Economist Dr Tejal Kanitkar spoke on scientific temper and climate change. All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA) leader K Swaminathan spoke on financial sector reforms and their implications for Indian Economy.
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