As the government has unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four, to create fewer and stronger global-sized bankers as it looks to revive economic growth, members of the All India Bank Employees’ Association staged a protest in New Delhi against the Centre’s decision. Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that 10 public sector banks – Punjab National Bank, Canara bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank, United Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Andhra Bank would be merged. Employees of all public and private sector banks wore black badges to work as a mark of protest to the government’s decision. The Association’s General Secretary, C H Venkatachalam termed the government’s move was “ill timed” and needs a review. A rally opposing it was also planned by the Association, said Mr. Venkatachalam. He alleged the merger of public sector banks would mean closure of six banks. Coming down heavily on the decision to merge 10 banks, Mr. Venkatachalam termed the move ill-conceived and ill-timed. Referring to how the public sector banks have always been on the forefront of the nation-building programmes, Venkatachalam said that were it not for the nationalised banks, India would have felt the blow of 2008 economic meltdown more acutely. He further claimed that the merger of PNB, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank, United Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Andhra Bank into four consolidated institutions would sound the death knell for six banks built over the years with a very clear social and economic objective of broad-basing the economy. “Government may call it a merger.. six banks which have been built up over the years will disappear from banking scenario”, Venkatachalam said. He recalled that when the financial recession was experienced world over in 2008, the domestic banking system was safe because of public sector banks. “Big banks do not necessarily mean strong banks,” he remarked in against the government’s decision. The other unions are the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, National Confederation of Bank Employees, All India Bank Officers’ Association, Bank Employees Federation of India, Indian National Bank Employees’ Federation, Indian National Bank Officers’ Congress, National Organisation of Bank Workers and National Organisation of Bank Officers. The options available to the unions include calling for bank strikes and asking affiliated employees to refrain from work, said Venkatachalam.