Gold loan lender Muthoot Finance, which is bearing the brunt of the strike by a section of workers in Kerala, has scotched rumours of closing down of its branches outside the State, saying that “such reports are purely untrue, baseless and with mala fide intention by some unethical players”.

“We have closed down few branches to optimise our operations”, the company said. It has chalked out extensive branch expansion plans across the country. The company is opening a few more branches to strengthen its operations, branch network and to serve the increasing demand from customers.

The management response comes in the wake of reports circulating in social media platform on the issue of purported move to close down Muthoot Finance branches outside the State.

Asked about the decision to close down around 43 branches across Kerala, a company spokesman said these branches would continue with its operations for the next three months to enable customers to close their loan accounts and get back their pledged ornaments. Arrangements have been made for closure of loans and releases of the gold ornaments pledged will be intimated to the customers. Investors in the privately placed debentures will be intimated individually of the procedure for receiving interest/redemption on maturity.

However, it said the strike by Non-Banking and Private Finance Employees Association since August 20 has affected the functioning of 300 of its 615 odd branches in Kerala. The ongoing protest had impacted the business in Kerala which had come down to four per cent from 10 per cent earlier, while it reported record business growth in other states.

The striking employees said that workers with many years of experience were drawing salaries of around 12,000. Lack of job security, sales-oriented pressure and closure of several branches in 2016 had led to the formation of the union led by CITU. Several representations given to the management to address all these issues were turned down, they alleged.

Meanwhile, the State Labour Minister TP Ramakrishnan is to convene a meeting with the management, CITU and leaders and the striking employees in Kochi today evening.