Money & Banking

Bank employees are proud, but feel basic issues yet to be addressed

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 18, 2019 Published on July 18, 2019

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As the country celebrates 50 years since bank nationalisation, bank employees will be proud that they have contributed to nation-building. Still there are basic issues close to the bankman’s heart that are yet to find redressal, observes Jyothi KP, Vice-President, All-India Bank Officers’ Confederation, Kerala, and a National Executive Committee member.

Various committees

The Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Acts of 1970 and 1980 provide that the Central Government, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, may make a scheme, inter alia, for amalgamation of any nationalised bank with any other nationalised bank or any other banking institution. Various committees, including Narasimhan Committee (1998) constituted by the RBI, Leeladhar Committee (2008) chaired by the RBI Deputy Governor, and the Nayak Committee (2014) constituted by the RBI, have recommended consolidation of public sector banks (PSBs) given underlying benefits/synergies.

Taking note of this and potential benefits of consolidation for banks as well as the public through enhanced access to banking services, the government, in order to facilitate consolidation among PSBs to create strong and competitive banks, serving as catalysts for growth, with improved risk profile, has approved a framework for proposals to amalgamate PSBs through an Alternative Mechanism.

The following amalgamation/mergers have already happened post-nationalisation and some more are reportedly in the pipeline. This creates stress for the employees since they are scared for their existence and job security, observes Jyothi.

Bankman’s perspective

Giving a bank employee’s perspective, Jyothi recalled that the banking sector was in the red in Q4 of 2018-19 with a loss of ₹20,817 crore. In 2017-18, they had reported a massive loss of ₹85,000 crore forcing lenders to make provisions for bad loans and clean-up of the books.

Till such time a project is commissioned in line with the approved schedule, banks should not be forced to categorise such projects as NPA, notes Jyothi.

In the event of classification of big-ticket advances as NPA, the government should pro-actively help banks in realising the public money. It should initiate steps to declare suo moto 50 top NPAs of each banks as wilful defaulters and to publish their names and photos.

For implementing SARFAESI provisions, many bank officers are targeted, even personally. By merely targeting the bank officers responsible for executing the Act, the political fraternity is missing the point to bring amendments to the Act itself.

The humongous challenge of realising the NPA is telling on PSB bottomlines. This is also subjecting the desk officers to unreasonable amount of work pressure and stress.

Irregular working hours, stress on account of financial risk in routine work schedules, technical problems of software, and IT-related issues add to the worries of the already traumatised bank employees.

In many cases, their retirement benefits are withheld. Many are arrested and are not aware as to why the arrest is happening in the first place, evening leading to suicides.

According to Section 5 of the Banking Regulation Act, banking means ‘accepting, for the purpose of lending and investment of deposits of money from public, repayable on demand or otherwise and withdrawal by cheque, draft, order or otherwise.’

Para-banking blues

However, sale of para-banking products and implementation of government schemes take away the lion’s share of working hours of an average PSB employee.

As mentioned earlier, when the balance sheet turns red, all blame is shoved on the desk-level officers for non-profitability/non- performance.

Yet, when it comes to wage revision, the question of profitability arise. The settlement takes place between Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU).

The IBA represents bank managements and the UFBU, officers, employees, and staff organisations. The Charter of demands had been submitted in a time bound manner and the IBA had agreed to complete the process of negotiations expeditiously within the time-frame so as to reach the settlement before October 2017. However, since five major bank managements have not given full mandate for negotiating wages up to scale VII , the AIBOC is not participating in the talks now.

Published on July 18, 2019
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