The Jakarta Post
Around 1,000 workers of state-owned Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN) staged a protest against the government's plan to move its shares in the company to another state-owned lender, Bank Mandiri, on Sunday.
The rally of workers with the BTN Workers Union (SP BTN) was held in front of BTN headquarters in Harmoni, Central Jakarta.
SP BTN head Satya Wijayantara said in a speech that all BTN workers were ready to fight against the acquisition of the bank.
'We reject the BTN acquisition. Return BTN back to the people because BTN belongs to the people,' he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Former coordinating economic minister Rizal Ramly, former BTN director Siswanto and an Association of Housing Development in Indonesia central executive board (DPP Apersi) official, Susanto Mundie Sudarmo, were present at the rally, which began at 9 a.m. and is set to run until stakeholders stop the acquisition plan.
Rizal said there was no reason for Bank Mandiri to acquire BTN.
"During the last several years, Bank Mandiri's work performance has continued to decline. It has been outperformed by state-lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia [BRI]," said Rizal.
"So, if Mandiri wants to boost its business it should acquire a private bank, instead of a state-owned bank."
According to Mandiri's 2013 financial report published earlier this year, the bank ' currently the biggest lender by assets ' posted Rp 18.2 trillion (US$1.5 billion) in net profits, a 17.4 percent rise from the previous year. The growth in profit was lower than that booked in 2012, when its bottom line jumped 26.6 percent.
Rizal said State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan must immediately stop the acquisition plan.
'Don't take such a step just for the sake of Mandiri's interest. Don't ever forget the history of BTN. Moreover, [the acquisition is] taking place ahead of the election,' he said.
The rally was peaceful. Workers held banners and posters reading "BTN Not For Sale" and "A Hidden Agenda Behind BTN Acquisition". (idb/ebf)