Demand to halt privatisation and to reorient banking is entirely just!
Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 23 Sept 2008
On September 24 and 25, nearly 10 lakh bank employees including officers, will participate in a country-wide bank strike, demanding an immediate halt to privatisation and to merger of state owned banks in the name of global competitiveness. The Communist Ghadar Party of India hails the stand of the United Forum of Bank Unions, which is spearheading the strike, and calls on all working people in the country to support the just demands of the bank workers.
Through the strike, bank workers are expressing their complete opposition to the financial sector 'reforms' which the bourgeoisie has initiated and wants to carry further forward. They are opposing the trend towards maximum profit making, by Indian and foreign monopoly capital, becoming the sole driving force in banking, both for private and state owned banks. They are opposing the diversion of credit from priority needs of agriculture, small and medium scale industry and services, into the hands of big corporate giants and financial institutions that are gambling with the fate of the toiling people.
Banking is a service required by all enterprises, big or small, in our economy today. No productive enterprise can survive without credit. The working class also needs banks as a safe place to deposit our savings.
Today, banks are giving top priority to the credit needs of big corporate houses and multinational companies, to the needs of the biggest gamblers and profiteers. Collapse of several giant investment banks and mortgage companies in the United States and Europe has shaken the credibility of banks on the world scale.
Will banks that are driven by maximisation of their profits provide security for workers' savings? This has become a serious matter of concern. Also of serious concern is the credit need of peasants, farmers, small and medium scale industry and services. Banks are charging unaffordable rates of interest to the small borrowers, both urban and rural, besides demanding control of their productive assets as surety. All this is being done in the name of increasing profitability and to be "globally competitive".
Should the aim of banking be to fulfil the claims of the toiling people who produce the wealth of India? Or should it be to fulfil the greed of the oligarchy of Indian exploiters of global dimensions, headed by Tata and Reliance? This is the question.
Privatisation and consolidation of state owned banks mean that banking will more and more get oriented exclusively to maximise the profits of a handful of giant enterprises, both Indian and foreign. This target suits the imperialist aim of the big bourgeoisie. It means insecurity for working people's savings and ruination for small producers, including the peasantry. It means increasing attacks on the working and living conditions of the bank workers.
Banking consolidation that the government and the bourgeoisie are talking about is aimed at reducing the number of branches and the number of state owned banks. It means to close down several more rural branches, and to establish oligopolistic domination of the credit market by a handful of banks. It means reducing the work force and increasing the exploitation of bank workers. It is not motivated either by the need to provide convenient banking services to the people at large, or to raise the living standards of the bank employees. Bank employees are entirely justified in opposing this so-called consolidation scheme.
The way the Indian banking system has developed, different nationalised banks have their major activities and large proportion of branches in different states and regions. Why should this be eliminated, given that India is a vast country, with numerous states, numerous languages in which people need to be serviced?
If the needs of the working people are put in command, then it has to be recognised that we need more banks and more branches, not fewer, as the big bourgeoisie and its spokesmen claim.
In principle, banking services – secure depository for people’s savings and lending for production – must be provided at cost price, so as to best serve the general interest of society and its extended reproduction. There is no justification for banks to operate in favour of the largest private corporate interests. There is no reason why profit maximisation must be the aim of banking. The working class must demand the reorientation of banking as an essential social service, provided at cost price by public enterprises that are answerable to the public.
In fighting against the program of privatisation and global competitiveness, bank workers of India are not only defending their own interests. They are also fighting in the interests of the entire working class and vast majority of peasants, and in the best interests of Indian society as a whole. They deserve full support to make the 24-25 September strike a grand success.