Chennai, Aug 13 The merger of State Bank of India's associate banks with SBI has resulted in sizeable membership gain for the majority union -- All India State Bank of India Staff Federation (AISBISF), said a top union leader.
The AISBISF may have gained but to what extent is something that cannot be exactly quantified, countered the top leader of All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA).
"Around 28,000 members of AIBEA in the erstwhile associate banks have joined our union post-merger. Prior to the merger membership strength in SBI was around 170,000 and now we expect the membership number to touch 200,000," Sanjeev Kumar Bandlish, General Secretary of AISBISF, told IANS over phone from Chandigarh.
Bandlish is also the General Secretary of National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE).
The five associate banks that merged with SBI are: SBBJ (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur), SBM (State Bank of Mysore), SBT (State Bank of Travancore), SBP (State Bank of Patiala) and SBH (State Bank of Hyderabad).
According to Bandlish, nearly 40,000 award staff (class III and IV) came to SBI from the associate banks.
The AIBEA had a lion's share of membership in the associate banks. It also had its nominees on the bank's board.
However, AISBISF was the majority union in SBI.
"Of the 40,000 staff who came to SBI post-merger, around 28,000 have joined our union," Bandlish said.
It is nothing new for the union to add members in large numbers nor does it pose any challenge, he said.
"SBI recruits in large numbers and the new recruits join our union. As to the members of AIBEA who joined our union, they are educated and took their own decision. There will not be any clash of any ideology."
On the other hand, AIBEA's General Secretary C.H. Venkatachalam termed Bandlish's claims as exaggerated.
"It is true that some AIBEA members in erstwhile associate banks have joined AISBISF after the merger with SBI. But the numbers are not alarming. Unless the checkoff system is implemented in SBI, we may not know how many of our members have joined the rival union or vice versa," Venkatachalam said.
He said initially there was fear amongst AIBEA members that they might be subjected to vindictive transfers.
"But now the fear factor is not there. Many of our members who switched loyalties are coming back," Venkatachalam said.
Venkatachalam said AIBEA was the major union in the banking industry. Though it opposed mergers amongst government banks, it should not be forgotten that the union would gain membership if mergers happen.
"If mergers happen amongst government owned banks, then we will gain membership as AIBEA is the majority union in all the government owned banks barring Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of Baroda," Venkatachalam said.
He said that in Bank of Baroda, AIBEA has 45 per cent membership while the remaining is with NCBE.
"When a clutch of banks where our union has the majority gets merged with Bank of Baroda then the majority union there will become minority and there will be influx of members for us," Venkatachalam said.
Similarly, when IOB gets merged with a stronger bank, then the staff union there will become minority and AIBEA will gain new membership as a majority union, Venkatachalam added.