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Unions oppose consolidation of public sector banks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Representatives from nine state-run bank employee's unions yesterday publicized a statement in protest of the government's plans to initiate consolidation among Taiwan's public sector banks.

According to union representatives, the government's consolidation plans for public sector banks remain murky and incomplete. Most notably, the government's intent to force mergers among state-run banks runs the risk of recreating conditions that had caused the 2008 global financial crisis.

Precedent has shown that bigger is not better, said union representatives. History suggests that smaller and more regional banks have proven to be more nimble in times of financial tumult.

In addition, the unions listed a slew of unscrupulous practices seen throughout the second financial reform enacted during former President Chen Shui-bien's administration. During this period, the financial sector fell victim to politicians and business conglomerates, with money laundering and bribery running rampant under the guise of reform, the unions said.

Union representatives stated that the interests of countless banking employees were harmed during merger bids in the past, with many of them facing layoffs and drastic reductions in compensation and benefits, with managers doing little to ease workers during the transition.

Contrary to their private sector counterparts, public sector banks bear the brunt of responsibility to the nation and society, contributing profits to the treasury while bolstering the development of industries.

The unions stated that they are at a loss in responding to the government's fickle policy changes.

Recent conflicting policies pushed by the government include a push for state-run banks to issue more shares to provide additional capital for the ailing national treasury, and reinforce the government three major investment funds, followed by plans to establish larger “Asian regional bank” by consolidating a number of state-run banks, all without consulting workers' unions, said representatives.

Union representatives urged governing bodies to increase efforts to negotiate merger bids with employees, saying that their support must be garnered if the process is to be made more transparent. In addition, sweeping moves such as the issuing of new shares and mergers need to be jointly assessed by the Legislative Yuan, labor organizations, sector experts and civic associations. The union urged the government to refrain from the practice of doggedly pursuing its goals in a vacuum, offering no dialogue with related parties except slogans.

The statement was issued yesterday by unions of the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), Hua Nan Financial Holding (華南金工會), the Land Bank (土銀), Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐銀), Taiwan Business Bank (台企銀), the First Bank (一銀), the Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合庫銀), the Export-Import Bank of the R.O.C. (輸銀) and the Bank of Taiwan Life Insurance Co. (台銀人壽).

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