"Absolutely, ill informed. I want to assure every union in everyone of these banks to please recall what I have said last Friday. When we spoke about amalgamation of banks I have very clearly underlined the fact that there shall not be one employee removed. Not at all", she told reporters here.
She was replying to a question on the bank employees unions opposing the merger plan on the ground it would lead to loss of jobs.
Sitharaman on Friday unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four as part of plans to create fewer and stronger global-sized lenders as the government looked to boost economic growth from a five-year low.
The four mergers are PNB (Punjab National Bank) will amalgamate with itself smaller peers Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India, to create the nation's second- largest lender; Syndicate Bank will merge with Canara Bank; Union Bank of India will take over Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank will merge with Allahabad Bank.
The move will bring down the number of state-run banks to 12 from 19 after the merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda effective April 2019. As of April 20-17, there were 27 state-run banks in the country, right before the SBI merged with itself its five associate banks along with the Bharatiya Mahila Bank.
Earlier, responding to the government's plan, the All India Bank Employees Union has said the amalgamation would lead to closure of banks besides job losses.
"The proposals which the government has moved are unmindful since it has no logic or rationale. Neither, it is the case that a weak bank is merged with a strong one nor geographically compatible banks are being merged," the association said in a statement.
The unions said the government has come out with merger proposals at a time when the economy is passing through a rough weather-as the announcements came an hour before the government reported that the economy slowed to the lowest level in 25 quarters in the April-June period clipping at a low 5%.