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Officers' union requests PM to defer mega bank merger amidst COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi, Mar 25 (PTI) Bank officers' union on Wednesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to defer mega merger exercise of banks in view of coronavirus outbreak.

Banking services across the country are impacted due to the effect of COVID-19 as a near shut down is being observed across the country.  In a letter written to the Prime Minister, the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) said 'the finance minister yesterday announced a slew of measures in view of the deleterious effect of the contagion. We are also expecting an extension of closing related activities and the revision of the closing date itself from March 31 to June 30, which is the need of the hour.'  In this context, AIBOC would like to draw your attention that the process of amalgamation of 10 public sector banks scheduled with effect from April 1, 2020 also be deferred as conclusion would be difficult proposition during the lockdown.  The entire exercise of merger process involves huge number of tasks requiring constant interaction and congregation of the employees of the anchor and target banks and representatives of outsourced consultants, agencies etc.

These tasks in the current state of affairs are unwarranted particularly in view of the 'break the chain' effort undertaken by the government to combat the spread of the fatal disease, it said.

If the merger process is initiated, thousands of bank employees and officers and executives involved in the process will be exposed to the risk of their lives and in turn, may cause further contamination to other people who need to be interacted with.

'It may be argued that these activities can be carried out through video conferencing, but it should be borne in mind simultaneously that these are complex tasks, where apart from video conferencing, several meetings will also be required to be held among the rank and file of the banks involved in order to ensure accomplishment of the job of assimilation and integration of the systems and processes,' it said.

'As a progressive trade union, we strongly feel that the priority before the country is to come out from the colossal threat of loss of precious human lives, which is unprecedented in independent India and repair the damages being caused to the national economy as a natural fallout of the Coronavirus endemic,' it said.

Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet approved consolidation of 10 public sector banks (PSBs) into four with effect from April 1, 2020.

As part of exercise, United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce would be merged with Punjab National Bank, making the proposed entity the second largest public sector bank.

It was decided to merge Syndicate Bank with Canara Bank, while Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank. Similarly, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank are to be consolidated with Union Bank of India. PTI DP MKJ