Bank unions want ‘adequate increase in salary’ as part of their demands to the management of all banks, represented by the Indian Banks Association (IBA). The 10th bipartite talks between bank unions and IBA are on currently to decide the quantum of wage increase for bank employees for the period covering November 2012 to October 2017. Each settlement is valid for a period of five years. The earlier settlement expired in October 2012.
C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association, while laying out the case for an ‘adequate increase’, refused to quantify it. He said that employees should be paid more in view of the alarming price increase, increased job profile, wages in comparable sectors and the profitability of banks.
The 8th wage talks covering the period 2002-07 provided bank employees a 13.25 per cent increase in wages on the average while the 9th wage talks (covering 2007-12) gave them a 17.5 per cent increase on the average.
Venkatachalam said that the priority for unions in this settlement was to improve the dearness allowance (given to compensate inflation). He said that unions wanted DA to be credited on a monthly basis rather than on a quarterly basis as was the case now. He also said that unions wanted housing for all employees, improved transport, medical allowances and better post-retirement benefits such as family pension/ gratuity.
Responding to the criticism that wage talks tended to meander for a long while, Venkatachalam said that unions were in favour of conducting them in a time-bound, expedited way. IBA had also agreed with this view and he hoped that negotiations would be over within six months.
When asked if unions were agreeable to the proposal of variable pay linked to productivity, Venkatachalam said that they were open to proposals that offer incentives for performance or motivate employees. However, he clarified, that these could not be in lieu of the increase in basic emoluments that they were demanding. He also debunked the ‘cost-to-company’ concept that was floated by the IBA during the talks held last week.
He said that the concept wouldn’t work and the industry was not ripe enough for it. Elaborating he said that cost of establishment was not decided at the industry level but at the level of individual banks and their negotiations couldn’t cover this aspect.