On the outcome will depend the all-India strike plan on Jan 20-21

The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), which represents the managements of nationalised, private and foreign banks in the country, has invited the United Forum of Bank Unions for wage negotiations on January 17, ahead of the two-day all-India bank strike beginning on January 20.

This follows the suggestion by the Central Chief Labour Commissioner, B.S. Bansariya, who held conciliation talks with the UFBU, a collective of nine bank trade unions, and the IBA. The talks were held at the Labour Ministry’s office in New Delhi on Monday.

The first round of negotiations between the IBA and UFBU will be held at the office of the IBA in Mumbai.

Sources said that at Monday’s talks, Bansariya suggested the two sides hold bilateral negotiations for a wage-revision agreement. The IBA had earlier called the unions for talks on January 29, but the unions had wanted the talks to be held before the strike.

Bansariya pointed out that the two-day strike called by UFBU would inconvenience bank customers and hurt the economy.

He urged the IBA to hold bilateral negotiations before the strike. The IBA agreed and proposed January 17 as the day for talks which the UFBU agreed to, sources said. The unions want the wage negotiation process be held in a time-bound manner, and the two sides have agreed to wrap up the process by June.

STRIKE PLAN

Asked if UFBU would call off the strike in view of Monday’s agreement on negotiations, C.H. Venkatachalam, General-Secretary, All-India Bank Employees Association, said it would not. “We will take a call on the strike based on the outcome of the January 17 talks,” he told Business Line. “If the IBA makes a satisfactory improvement on its initial offer of wage hike, we will revisit the strike call. But if the IBA disappoints us, we will certainly go ahead with the strike.”

The IBA had earlier offered a 5 per cent increase in the ‘payslip component’ which the unions had rejected outright. Since the wage-revision agreement would be in force for five years, the increase should factor in the current and future price rises as well as the increasing workload on the staff, the unions said. The wage accord will impact close to a million banking personnel.

basheer.kpm@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 13, 2014)
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