The All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) has reportedly announced a nationwide strike against the government's policy to privatise public sector undertakings (PSUs) and dilution of government equity. The four officers' unions have strongly opposed further mergers and amalgamations of public sector banks (PSBs).

"The four officers' organisations hereby affirm that we will launch an all-out resistance to the attempt of selling national assets with all major stakeholders," AIBOC was quoted as saying in a statement.

It is not clear as to when AIBOC plan to carry out all-India strike, which will likely mean all major banks will be shut. The copy will be duly updated.

Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.Twitter

Bank unions protest privatisation of PSUs

In a letter to the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the bank unions had expressed their disapproval towards privatisation of PSUs, calling it "ill-conceived and thoroughly inimical to the national interest."

"This PSU privatisation policy, which was first announced along with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package in May 2020, will only weaken India's self-reliance and make us dependent on foreign and domestic private capital. The announcement made last year identified "strategic sectors" where the number of PSUs would be brought down between one and four," the banking unions body had said in the letter.

The four unions include All India Bank Officers' Confederation, the All India Bank Officers' Association, the Indian National Bank Officers' Congress and the National Organisation of Bank Officers. But the resistance is believed to be from other major stakeholders as well.

Divestments of PSBs

Sitharaman announced in the Budget speech that a number of transactions namely of BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd among others, would be completed in 2021-22.

Air India Airbus A320 passenger aircraft.

The divestments of BPCL and Air India have been hanging for more than a year now. Other than IDBI Bank, Centre also proposes to take up the privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company in 2021-22. The government has set the disinvestment target for FY22 at Rs.1.75 lakh crore.

Sitharaman also announced that under the Atmanirbhar Package, a policy of strategic disinvestment of public sector enterprises was announced which has now been approved.

The policy provides a clear roadmap for disinvestment in all non-strategic and strategic sectors. "We have kept four areas that are strategic, 18 where bare minimum CPSEs will be maintained and rest privatised. In the remaining sectors, all CPSEs will be privatised," Sitharaman announced.

"To fast forward the disinvestment policy, I am asking NITI Aayog to work out on the next list of Central Public Sector companies that would be taken up for strategic disinvestment," she said.

(Additional agency inputs added)