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Thursday, Mar 11, 2004

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IBA offers to bear addl Rs 818 cr in wage bill

M. Ramesh

Chennai , March 10

BOTH the Indian Banks Association, which represents all the public sector banks, and the unions expect some headway in wage negotiations that will resume on March 19.

On the `pay' side, IBA has offered to take an additional burden of Rs 818 crore on the workmen wage bill for public sector banks, but "we have asked for some improvement on this," said Mr C.H. Venkatachalam, Secretary, All-India Bank Employees Association, one of the leading unions.

Today, the wage bill for workmen (clerks and peons) works out to Rs 9,700 crore. The IBA offer works out to 8.43 per cent increase, Mr Venkatachalam said.

There are some 6.5 lakh clerks and peons in the banking industry, of whom 5.5 lakh are in public sector banks excluding State Bank of India and its subsidiaries.

This is the eighth round of wage negotiations since the first round in 1966. For the first time, IBA has brought in three `management issues' in the talks. It has taken a stand that transfer of employees within a State and freedom to computerise should be the management's prerogative. It has also asked for a rationalisation in various allowances given to employees.

"On freedom to computerise and rationalisation of allowances we have made a lot of headway," IBA's Chairman Mr V. Leeladhar told Business Line today. Concurring with this, Mr Venkatachalam said, "the present technology needs of banks will be agreed to by the unions." He also said that on rationalisation of allowances the unions have "an open mind."

On the transfer issue, Mr Leeladhar said that the management ought to have the flexibility to move employees from pockets of surplus to where more staff is needed. Mr Venkatachalam said, "We are not fully convinced by the IBA proposal to transfer employees over an enlarged area." However, the unions would consider agreeing to transfer within a "reasonable jurisdication."

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