The Government arrived at a wage settlement for Central Government employees well before the expiry of the existing accord.

Bank employees have begun to voice their displeasure over what they call the Government's ‘casual’ approach in settling their wage accord, which is overdue.

The 9th wage settlement expired in October 2012. A year has passed but negotiations have hardly taken off, said C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).

The 10th bipartite talk between bank unions and Indian Banks Association (IBA) to decide on the quantum of wage increase for bank employees is currently on. Each settlement is valid for five years.

The current settlement would be valid from November 2012 to October 2017.

Rising discontent

IBA's slow approach has given rise to discontent among employees.

On the one hand, there has been a steep increase in living costs.

On the one hand, the Government arrived at a wage settlement for Central Government employees well before the expiry of the existing wage accord.

Venkatachalam said the United Forum of Bank Unions will decide on strike action soon to press for early settlement of wages.

Without disclosing the tentative date of strike, he said: “The Central Committee of the AIBEA is scheduled to meet at Allahabad on November 11 and 12 to chalk out further intensified programme, including strike action, to press for early settlement among others.”

When asked about the AIBEA’s demand, he said it has four or five priorities.

For instance, improvement in the dearness allowance compensation, which is now credited every quarter, should be made on a monthly basis and reflect the effect of inflation; there should be provision of housing accommodation for all including new recruits, who are posted in various places; full medical reimbursement should be provided for the employee and his/her family, and there should be better post-retirement benefits such as family pension and gratuity.

“And it's not just the package. The job as such should be made attractive, as the profile of the banking industry itself is undergoing a change,” he said.

To yet another query, he said the IBA has agreed that the settlement will become effective from November 2012.

“It has also agreed that the pay-scales will be reconstructed at 4,440 points against 2,836 points at present; but after that, nothing has happened. Even the date for the next round of talks has not been fixed. It is disheartening,” he said.

The 8th wage talks (covering the period 2002-07) provided bank employees with a 13.25 per cent increase in wages on an average while the 9th wage talks (2007-12) gave them a 17.5 per cent rise.

revathy.lakshminarasimhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 9, 2013)
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