United Forum of Bank Unions announces strike as conciliation talks fail. Protest will involve employees of all public and private banks
About 10 lakh employees of public sector, private sector, foreign, co-operative and rural banks will go on strike on 5th August to protest against a range of issues from privatisation of nationalised banks, disinvestment in public sector banks and mergers and acquisitions in the banking sector, to the outsourcing of routine activities.
The strike has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella organisation of nine bank unions, after conciliation talks at the office of the chief labour commissioner failed today. There will be another round of talks on Wednesday. ATMs could also be affected, bringing all banking activities across the country to a complete halt.
“We are opposing banking sector reforms. This is not for bank employees alone, but for the sake of the country,” Ravindra Shetty, convener, UFBU, said at a news conference in Mumbai today.
The issues are listed in a 21-point charter that was drafted at an all-India convention in the national capital in May. The issues of all sections of bank employees and officers, even retired employees, are contained in the charter.
The strike action appears to have been prompted by the plan of the government to table bills in the current session of parliament to amend the Banking Regulations Act and Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act.
“Through these amendments, banks will be exempted from competition and any merger of banks will become easier for the government,” Mr Shetty said. The charter of issues has been put before the Indian Banks Association (IBA).
Mr Shetty criticised the government’s move to allow private investors (corporates) to invest more than 5% in private sector banks, saying, “There is a move to remove the 10% cap of voting rights in private sector banks. They are giving the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) sweeping powers to supersede the codes of banks and appoint administrators to run the banking industry.”
He said UFBU is opposed to such reforms and would struggle to protect and strengthen public sector banks. The union are demanding the expansion of public sector banks into villages, in line with the announcement the finance minister made in the Union Budget.
Mr Shetty referred to the fact that Indian banks had withstood the global financial crisis of 2008. He said that even the government had acknowledged that Indian banks were able to tide over the crisis because of “our public character”, and today the same government was looking to change the character of the banking industry.
The unions have also opposed the outsourcing and contractualisation of permanent bank jobs. While they had agreed to certain specialised IT-related being outsourced, they say that the government was trying to bring in various non-core jobs into the ambit of outsourcing. “The government wants to bring in business correspondents and facilitators that will take away the jobs of citizens who are seeking employment in banks,” Mr Shetty said.
He also referred to the attempt by the government to implement some clauses of the Khandelwal Committee report through the backdoor
Urging the government to revive the banking services recruitment board, as nearly five lakh employees will retire in the next five years, Milind Nadkarni, president of the National Confederation of Bank Employees, said, “Banks are going for clerical recruitment to campuses. We object to this as every boy and girl with the minimum required qualification should be allowed to apply for recruitment.”
Lalita Joshi, joint secetary of the All India Bank Employees Association, said that the families of many employees who have passed away were struggling in these days of high inflation and many of them were in a poor condition, but no effort had been made to employ any of the family members on compassionate grounds.
Mr Shetty hoped that the government would lend a more sympathetic ear to these issues and not push the unions into an indefinite strike.
Nifty should close above 5,570 to show some strength
Yesterday, we had mentioned that a one-day rise shouldn't be taken as the end of the decline. Today, the Nifty lost 60 points, which is the maximum the benchmark has lost in a single day over the past five trading sessions. And both the Sensex and the Nifty closed at their lowest level in the last 28 days as the market fell on negative news across the globe.
For the indices to see some strength, it would require some real positive changes in the fundamentals. We can expect the Nifty to show a rising trend if it closes above 5,570 in the coming days.
The market opened lower on concerns over the slowdown in domestic growth, following mixed announcements yesterday. The Nifty resumed trade at 5,493, down 24 points, and the Sensex opened 30 points lower at 18,284.
Banking, realty, metals and auto stocks declined in early trade. While the Sensex opening level was its high for the day, the Nifty's 5,496 immediately after the opening was its high point.
News that the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council has lowered its growth forecast for the current fiscal; July factory output data which was the lowest in 20 months; and sharply lower auto sales by key auto majors in July, all weighed on the market. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today tried to contain the damage, saying that 8.2% GDP growth projection was "not disappointing".
The indices were range-bound in subsequent trade and a lower opening on key European bourses pushed the market further southwards in afternoon trade. The market fell to its intra-day low in the post-noon session, as the Nifty touched 5,434 and the Sensex struggled at 18,038.
The market made a half-hearted attempt to recover, but selling pressure saw the indices close in the red. The Nifty closed 60 points lower at 5,457 and the Sensex lost 204 points to close at 18,110.
The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was a poor 395:1330.
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 1.53% and the BSE Small-cap index fell by 1.45%.
BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.34%) and BSE Healthcare (up 0.16%) were the only gainers in the sectoral space. The losers were led by BSE Realty (down 2.09%), BSE Metal (down 1.83%), BSE Bankex (down 1.71%), BSE TECk (down 1.70%) and BSE IT (down 1.50%).
Cipla (up 2.23%), NTPC (up 2.12%), ONGC (up 0.88%), RIL (up 0.51%) and Hero Honda (up 0.42%) were the top gainers on the Sensex. On the other hand, Jaiprakash Associates (down 5.08%), Reliance Communications (down 3.46%), State Bank of India (down 2.88%), Sterlite Industries (down 2.41%) and Wipro (down 2.37%) ended at the bottom of the index.
The toppers in the Nifty index were NTPC (up 2.63%), Cipla (up 2.31%), ONGC (up 1.32%), Kotak Mahindra Bank (up 0.95%) and Hero Honda (up 0.93%). The main losers on the index were JP Associates (down 5.01%), RCom (down 3.75%), Reliance Capital (down 3.14%), Sesa Goa (down 2.96%), and IDFC (down 2.79%).
Markets in Asia settled lower as lower-than-expected manufacturing data from China and the US raised the possibility of slowing global demand. The strengthening yen set off speculation that Japanese authorities would intervene in the currency markets.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.91%, the Hang Seng lost 1.07%, the Jakarta Composite shed 0.37%, the KLSE Composite ended lower by 0.20%, the Nikkei 225 dropped by 1.21%, the Straits Times fell by 1.19%, the Seoul Composite plunged 2.35% and the Taiwan Weighted declined 1.34%.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs86.83 crore on Monday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs95.26 crore.
The KG-D6 fields of Reliance Industries produced 31% less than previously projected natural gas output in the April-June quarter. The average gas production during April-June 2011, from KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) block, was 48.60 million metric standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) which is less than the approved field development plan (FDP) rate of 70.39 mmscmd. The stock gained 0.81% on the NSE to close at Rs837.55.
Bajaj Auto's total sales in July rose 14% year-on-year to 3,63,712 units, the highest for the month of July in many years, on strong sales in the domestic as well as export markets. The company sold 3,18,095 motorcycles in July, up 14% from a year ago. Commercial vehicle sales rose 18% year-on-year to 45,617 units and exports grew 35% to 1,43,996 units. The stock declined 0.42% at Rs1,480.10 on the NSE.
Wind energy major Indowind Energy said it is planning to set up 28MW wind farms at investment of Rs120 crore, taking its total capacity to 71.92MW by March 2012. The company will fund the expansion through money which was raised through GDRs and $25 million loan from Exim Bank. The scrip declined 3.79% to close at Rs16.50 on the NSE.
"Whenever information about money deposited in any foreign bank account is obtained the same is first verified and then action is taken in accordance with law to bring the undisclosed amount to taxation," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: The government has received information about Indians having accounts in Swiss banks and is taking appropriate action to bring back funds stashed abroad, Parliament was informed today.
"We have received some information with regard to some deposits in Swiss Bank," reports PTI quoting finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
"Whenever information about money deposited in any foreign bank account is obtained the same is first verified and then action is taken in accordance with law to bring the undisclosed amount to taxation," he said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
The minister, however, did not disclose the names of accounts holders saying that "information received under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) is covered by the confidentiality provision of the DTAA".
He was replying to a query on whether the government has received some information regarding black money deposited in Swiss banks.
Mr Mukherjee further said the government has formulated a five-pronged strategy in this regard.
This comprised joining the global crusade against 'black money', creating an appropriate legislative framework and setting up institutions for dealing with illicit funds, developing systems for implementation and imparting skills to the manpower for effective action.
Further, in absence of any credible information regarding the quantum of black money, the government has roped in three leading think-tanks NCAER, NIFM and NIPFP to conduct a study on unaccounted income generated inside and outside the country.
"Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with the institutes on 21 March 2011. The study is expected to be completed in a period of 18 months at an expenditure of Rs7.76 crore," Mr Mukherjee said.
The government has also constituted a high level committee on black money headed by CBDT chairman to strengthen laws to curb generation of black money in India, its illegal transfer abroad and its recovery.
Meanwhile, in reply to a separate question, minister of state for finance SS Palanimanickam currently India has DTAA with 80 countries, while it has signed Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with five nations.
"The committee shall consult all stakeholders and submit its report within a period of six months," Mr Palanimanickam said.
DTAA and TIEA are the two instruments through which information can be obtained from other nations.
The government is in the process of amending pacts with a host of countries to get information from banks.
"The government had identified 22 priority countries/ jurisdictions for negotiations of TIEAs. Negotiations have been completed with 16 countries," Mr Palanimanickam said.
To a query on whether the investigations against the persons who are having bank accounts in Liechtenstein have been concluded, the minister said the total income assessed for 18 individual beneficiaries was Rs39.66 crore and the total tax demand raised was Rs24.26 crore.
"Prosecution proceedings for tax evasion have been initiated in the case of 17 individuals," he said adding that information relating to these cases has been handed over to the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).