Union Call

Ishara S. Kodikara | AFP | Getty Images Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, center, speaks to supporters at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo on December 16, 2018, after he was reappointed as prime minister by Sri Lanka's president, the same man who fired him from the job nearly two months ago.

Feb 09 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s key banking sector union is appealing to President Mahinda Rajapakse to intervene in the Commercial Bank of Ceylon takeover attempt and re-introduce pensions to state banks. The powerful Ceylon Bank Employees Union (CBEU) has asked the president to make an order in his capacity as finance minister, to force DFCC Bank to reduce their stake in Commercial Bank to 10 percent using provisions in the banking act.

DFCC Bank owns a 29.8 percent stake in Commercial Bank with special permission from Central Bank.

Companies connected to the Stassens group of companies hold substantial stakes in both DFCC Bank and Commercial Bank.

But employee unions have opposed moves by Stassen group companies to gain operational control of Commercial Bank.

CBEU President M R Shah said the union, which met the president this week, had also asked pensions paid to state bank employees to be restored.

In 1996, the government decided not to pay pensions to new employees as part of the restructuring exercise of state banks, when public money was used for the second time to bail them out.

A part of the money, even at the time, went to plug holes in the pension funds.