Money & Banking

3-year wait for wage-revision leaves us with no option, say bank unions

Vinson Kurian | Updated on January 17, 2020

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UBFU) has decided to launch a sustained programme of agitation. Representational image.   -  BusinessLine

All-India strike on Jan 31-Feb 1, March 11-13; indefinite strike from April 1

Bank unions, which have threatened a two-day strike during the month-end and an indefinite strike from April, say that their wait for a legitimate and just demand for a raise through wage-revision will enter the third year next month. The agitation programmes announced by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) commence from Monday (January 20) and will include work-to-rule, centralised demonstrations, mass signature campaigns, and wearing of black badges culminating in a two-day all-India strike on January 31 and February 1; a three-day all-India strike from March 11 to 13; and indefinite all-India strike from April 1.

Common charter of demands

The UFBU said in its strike notice that the unions had submitted a common charter of demands to the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in February 2017 and May 2017, respectively. The Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, had advised all banks and the IBA to initiate the process of wage-revision and conclude it prior to the due date of November 1, 2017. The DFS has since served banks and the IBA with several reminders to complete the wage-revision process without delay. The IBA commenced its negotiations with the unions from May 2, 2017, with the assurance that discussions would be completed by October 2017. The two parties have met for no fewer than 20 rounds, followed by those with the sub-committees of workmen unions and officers associations on various dates and occasions. But the IBA has not been forthcoming in their offer to the expectations of the unions, it is being alleged.

IBA needs to come up with better offer’

“In February 2020, we will complete three years of wait for our just and legitimate rights,” said A Raghavan, Joint Secretary, National Confederation of Bank Employees, and General Secretary, State Banks’ Staff Union, Kerala Circle. What the UFBU has been repeatedly pointing out is that in the last wage settlement, the hike announced was 15 per cent of the pay slip cost. Hence, the IBA should come up with a better offer this time, Raghavan reasoned.

List of demands

In the recent meeting, the IBA has said that its offer of 12.25 per cent is final and it could not go beyond. This apart, the IBA has also been negative to other demands, including five-day banking, merger of special allowance with basic pay, scrapping of New Pension Scheme, updation of pension, exemption from income tax of retiral benefits without ceiling, and defined working hours for officers. “We are making our demands based on the fact that banks are doing well and earning higher operating profits year after year. There is also much improvement in the rate of recovery of bad loans even in this period of financial crunch,” Raghavan said.

Acute shortage of staff

On the other hand, due to acute shortage of staff in the branches, coupled with implementation of multiple government schemes, the workload and work pressure on employees and officers have gone up enormously. This needs to be compensated with satisfactory enhancement in remuneration. The salary and allowances of similarly-placed institutions and government departments are also much above prevailing levels in banks.

Published on January 17, 2020

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