‘It’s been three years; bankers are suffering a lot but nobody seems to care’.
New Delhi: Uncertainty is looming large over bank employees as the final wage settlement has still not been signed, though the deadline for the deal has expired. The bank officers and other employees are disappointed as the issue is pending since November 2017. In July this year, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the lenders, represented by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), representing workmen bodies and officers’ associations.
“The parties will endeavour to finalise the Bipartite Settlement/Joint Note within a period of 90 days,” from the date of signing the agreement, the MoU had stated.
Several bank employees and trade unions The Sunday Guardian spoke to said that the final wage settlement is not signed due to the two ongoing court proceedings. One is in the Allahabad High Court by We Bankers and the other is in the Madras High Court by Canara Bank Retiree Officer Alex.
“Due to these ongoing cases, the IBA and Union cannot sign the salary revision settlement. One thing that should be understood is, we are not stopping the ongoing process. We are demanding from the court whatever is finalised now by IBA and UFBU should be given as interim hike ad hoc salary and refer the case to National Tribunal or incorporate bankers into the Central pay commission or constitute separate transparent Pay Commission for bankers,” said Ashish Mishra, General Secretary, We Bankers Association, UP.
According to this 11th bipartite settlement talks, a 15% hike in the existing wage bill of 35 banks–public, and some private and foreign–was agreed upon. Meanwhile, a performance-linked incentive (PLI) has also been introduced as part of the salary structure of the public sector bank employees. Several trade unions’ members told The Sunday Guardian that the 15% hike is a “gimmick” and the role of both IBA and UFBU “is very much controversial”.
“Actually all this 15% hike claim is a gimmick. Actual hike on basic pay which decides all other allowances is proposed to be only a 2.5% load factor.” said Rahul Mishra, General Secretary, We Bankers Officers Association, UP.
Anurag Chandra, an employee of IDBI Bank, told The Sunday Guardian: “According to the deal, over Rs 7000 crore will be released for the bankers. If we had got this amount on time, this money would have been in the market. The problem is, the unions, banks, and IBA are the beneficiaries of all these activities. Basically, the union is supposed to talk about us. On paper, it is 15%. We were supposed to get this three years ago. If we had got the money on 1 November 2017, the union wouldn’t have got any levy out of it. It is a nexus.”
Several employees also said that they are disappointed as they are not getting what they deserve despite working around the clock throughout the ongoing pandemic and contributing to the proper implementation of various economical and financial schemes launched by the government. “Bank Wage Revision takes place every five years. It is called the Bipartite Settlement. But actually, it takes almost eight years. Due to delaying tactics every time by bank unions and bank management. Bank Unions Representative body called UFBU (United Forum Of Bank Union) an umbrella body of nine bank unions (five clerical unions-AIBEA, NOBW, BEFI, NCBE, INBEF and four Officer Unions- AIBOC, AIBOA, NOBO, INBOC). These nine bank unions under the banner of UFBU sit on the negotiation table with IBA (Indian Bank’s Association) which is actually a club of banks’ top management bosses (CMD, EDs of Public sector and private banks). The role of both IBA and UFBU is controversial. IBA itself is merely a voluntary organisation, unregistered body, and has no legal status as claimed by them in their circular. Pretending to be merely a facilitator in the negotiation process. But in reality, their committee signs the Banker’s Salary Revision Agreement from the bank management side. As they claim that all member banks’ managements have given a mandate to them to negotiate for salary revision. UFBU is also an unregistered body; it has no legal status. Both IBA and UFBU are corrupt and non-transparent and every time there is delay in salary revision of bankers due to their own vested interests. Bank unions claim levy of around 2-4% on arrear amount received on account of delay of salary settlement,” said Ashish Mishra. UFBU is also an unregistered body with no legal status.
Last week, four bank officers’ unions led by the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) blamed the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) for derailing finalisation of the wage revision process for over four lakh bank officers under the recent wage settlement announced in July.