Bank of Rajasthan staff protest merger with ICICI Bank

Mumbai, June 4 (IANS) Over 4,300 employees of the Bank of Rajasthan Friday started a two-day all-India strike in protest over its proposed take-over by the ICICI Bank, a union office-bearer said.

The ongoing two-day strike will be followed by a three-day strike June 17-19 and other forms of agitation, according to Vishwas Utagi, secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).

The employees of the Bank of Rajasthan’s 468 branches also staged a daylong sit-in protest at Azad Maidan here.

According to Utagi, the Bank of Rajasthan is a very old private sector bank with an all-India banking network, with prime properties worth billions of rupees across Rajasthan.

‘In recent times, the Tayal business group had taken control over the bank’s board and misused the public funds in the bank,’ Utagi told IANS.

The Reserve Bank of India then imposed fines of Rs.2.5 million on the bank for violating its guidelines in financial matters, he added.

Despite this, the Bank of Rajasthan’s board of directors May 18 approved its merger with the ICICI Bank, he said, terming the decision ‘shocking’.

Utagi said the bank unions would oppose the merger at all forums, while some shareholders were in the process of moving the courts.

‘There are certainly questions of corporate governance: how are the RBI and the SEBI (Security and Exchange Board of India) permitting such fraudulent mergers. The entire deal must be thoroughly investigated, especially since all the major players in this deal appear to have vested interests,’ he alleged.

Utagi demanded that the RBI should review the merger decision, put the Bank of Rajasthan under moratorium and subsequently merge it with any other public sector bank.

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