Contempt petition filed by officers’ union for withdrawing ‘check-off’ facility

The Madras High Court has issued a notice to Pratip Chaudhuri, Chairman of State Bank of India, to present himself in court on Monday, his last day in office.

Chaudhuri and Ranjit Goswami, Chief General Manager (Human Rsources) of the bank, have been summoned in a contempt petition filed by the SBI Officers’ Association and State Bank Officers’ Federation.

A notice has been sent to Chaudhuri in his personal name as well, D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary of the Officers’ Union, Chennai circle, informed Business Line.

The contempt petition was invoked against breach of an interim stay on a contentious circular issued by the bank withdrawing the ‘check-off’ facility provided to the association.

This facility provided a lifeline to the association in the form of individual subscriptions from salary accounts of member-officers routed to its account by the bank.

LIFELINE

The management ensured that subscriptions ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per employee went into the association’s account on the 25{+t}{+h} of every month, the salary payment day.

The convention has been that, at the time of joining, every employee gives a standing instruction in writing authorising the bank to deduct the sum from his/her salary account.

The management has sought to withdraw the facility suggesting to members of the unions that they pay up their subscriptions individually, Rajendra Dev said.

Earlier last week, the court had allowed a petition seeking an interim stay on the management’s circular withdrawing the ‘check-off’ facility.

While grating the interim stay, Justice N. Kirubakaran had observed that the facility was in operation right from 1975.

It is sought to be withdrawn, and in fact given effect on September 17, 2013, at a time when a similarly placed union (staff union) is enjoying the same benefit.

ORDER IGNORED

“This amounts to discrimination,” Justice Kirubakaran said in his order, copy of which is available with Business Line. But the management chose to ignore the stay order and went ahead to pay the salary on September 25 without effecting the check-off facility to members of the circle associations.

This is what forced the unions to file a contempt of court petition, Rajendra Dev said. SBI officers and clerical staff unions have a combined membership of more than two lakh.

vinson.kurian@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 29, 2013)
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