What the merger is all about

The SBI-SBT merger and mounting protests against it
news Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 08:29

Kerala government is against the merger of State Bank of Travancore with State Bank of India, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday.

Speaking to journalists at a meet-the-press event, the Chief Minister expressed the first political opposition to the proposed merger of the State Bank of Travancore with the SBI.

"People of state consider SBT as a bank of Kerala and the government also has the same view. We want SBT to remain as it is," Vijayan said.

What the merger is all about

Last month, SBI cleared a proposal for merger of subsidiary banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank and sought the government's approval. The country's largest lender has five associate banks - State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had made it clear that the central government was all for consolidation. The Hindu Business Line had reported that 'the country‚Äôs largest lender, SBI, had on May 17 said it was seeking the Centre‚Äôs nod to merge its five associate banks and the newly-created Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself.'

Protests against merger

In May 20 2016, employees of the five associate banks of the SBI had called for a national strike protesting against the proposed merger, saying there was no prior notice regarding merger.

Staff of the State Bank of Travancore (SBT) had protested in Thiruvananthapuram on May 30 by wearing black ribbons, waving black flags, and raised slogans against officials of the SBI, including Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

SBT employees view SBT as a part of Kerala’s history. The bank was earlier known as Travancore Bank Ltd, an initiative of CP Ramaswami Iyer, then Divan of Travancore (southern Kerala).

The Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) had already expressed its solidarity with the protest of SBT employees. CPI state assistant secretary Sathyan Mokeri, who inaugurated the protest had claimed that the merger would enable commercial banks to protect their interests and destroy the associate banks in the public sector. He also said that it would affect a large number of people who depend on these banks.

One of the main reasons that employees are objecting to the merger is the probability that they would be transferred to posts outside Kerala. Moreover, employees also feel the merger could reduce job opportunities.