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Sunday, May 26, 2002

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Oriental Insurance officers' plea on transfers rejected

Kohinoor Mandal


THE Calcutta High Court has recently turned down the plea of the officers of Oriental Insurance Co Ltd against possible transfers even if they were not being promoted.

Mr Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya passed the order on May 16 after vacating an injunction ordered by him on May 13, this year. He held that he found nothing wrong with the company's policy of transferring officers.

The Oriental Insurance Co is one of the first public sector general insurance companies to initiate its workforce-restructuring programme. About two months back, the company circulated a notice stating that all officers, except those of Class II, could be transferred even if they are not being promoted.

As expected, the trade unions and a section of the employees did not accept the notice. The General Insurance Officer' All India Association went to court against the notice. Some employees also carried out token protests against the decision of the management.

According to the transfer policy adopted by Oriental Insurance, officers who had already completed 10 years in the job were likely to be transferred from one region to another. For those whose experience was between five and ten years were likely to be transferred from one branch to another but within the same region.

The management was also considering going ahead with the programme of branch consolidation. However, for the time being, it would start with branches in the smaller cities. Once this exercise was successful, the programme was likely to be extended to the metros.

However, Mr Justice Bhattacharya has allowed the officers association another opportunity to file an affidavit-in-opposition and stated that this order is "subject to finalisation of the writ application" filed by them.

It may be noted that the respective board of directors of all the four nationalised public sector companies has approved the transfer policy. It was just a matter of time for introduction in all the companies.

"We were the first to introduce the transfer policy just because our schedule for employee promotion fell due before that of others. It was just a coincidence other companies may introduce it soon," sources said.

The four insurance companies were also contemplating to introduce six working days a week against the existing five days a week. However, a technical problem was involved here.

To introduce this working arrangement, the four companies will have to get the proposal approved by the board of General Insurance Corporation (GIC) because they are still (legally) subsidiaries of GIC. Parliament is yet to amend the Act and de-link the four companies from it.

"There is a second option and that is through Government notification. However, this route will take a longer time.

So, the management of these companies have requested the GIC top brass to approve the matter at its earliest board meeting," industry sources said.

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