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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wage Revision In Cold Storage

Wage Revision Remains  in Cold Storage  - 2 Day Strike by Bank Staff - UFBU needs to draw its strategy


Rajesh Goyal
Finally, 2 day strike has materialized and bankers across India participated in the strike.   Undoubtedly it has been success, if we consider the stoppage of banking work.   Therefore, this is a time for union leaders to pat on their back.   Some Unions have already issued circulars (i.e. 6.00 PM on 21st February, 2013, when I am writing this article) and others will be soon coming with them soon.   The night will be celebrated by leaders with great pump and show.    However,  if we consider whether it has resulted in direct benefit to bankers, then we have to contend with that there are no gains.  

AIBOC's circular congratulates to one million UFBU members for the success.   The circular talks about 10 demands which were political in nature, but some of them certainly hurting the common man.  The biggest issue was the risingprices.   Question arises, whether any solutions have been offered or Government has any strategy  to control the same.    Thus, 2 day strike is not likely to bring any relief to common man, but certainly it may bring some gains to opposition parties to score brownie points, specially Communists who were on the forefront of this strike.

Let us concentrate on Bankers and their leaders.   I think at this time, the top most agenda item which every serving banker wants to discuss is the  10th BPS, which has become due from 1st November, 2012 i.e. almost now it is 4 months overdue.   For certain sections of retired bankers the core issues to be resolved are - 2nd pension option to resignees etc, 100% DA neutralisation to pre-01/11/2002 retirees, and updation of pension.    I think, there will be hardly any bankers who will disagree with me on this issue except some hardcore UFBU leaders.    If this is true, then question arises why UFBU decided to waste its energies on political issues which are not likely to bring any results for the bankers or the country.   I believe, bankers should adopt strike as the last weapon for their benefits, as the public perception is building that bankers are ready to go on strike at the drop of a hat.    Such a perception is very dangerous for the bankers in their fight for an honourable wage hike.  

The half cooked Charter of Demands was submitted by UFBU almost four months back and after that we have not heard  even a word from any quarters.  [Only now I have been told that IBA has called for a meeting on 22nd February, 2013].    Why UFBU kept silent for four months?  Did they ask IBA for a meeting?  If yes, when and how many attempts were made?  What was the response of the IBA for such requests?   All this needs to be shared by UFBU leaders on regular basis so as to maintain transparency and keep pressure on IBA for early settlement of the Xth BPS.   I hope UFBU will issue these details and in future it will issue such details on fortnightly basis.

Some UFBU leaders will certainly contest my views as they always wants to negotiate in four walls and keep their cadres in dark.   UFBU leaders have to relise that times have changed and now in this age of internet, information must be shared by the evening the meeting is held.   We have recently uploaded an article as to how UFBU  and IBA cheated the senior citizens by denying 2nd pension option to certain sections of the retired bankers.   Had they maintained transparency, this would not have happened.  

Coming to the losses which bankers suffer from the delays and the Bank and GoI earns by delaying the implementation of the wage revision, the same are colossal.   This issue was even discussed towards the end of the IXth BPS.   You can read that interesting article even now at the link given herein :

The above is applicable even for this settlement.  Let us see how much the bankers have lost in 2 days strike and delay of 4 months to hold even the first meeting for negotiation.  [UFBU was supposed to give Charter of Demands at least 6 months before the same had become due, but they delayed it either intentionally or purely due to their lazyness].   The details of the loss are :

(a) As per news reports the country has lost Rs 20,000 crores due to 2 days strike;  However, there is no direct loss to bankers.  Thus let us ignore this for the purpose of our discussions;

(b) There has been loss of pay for 2 days for 10 lakh employees (as claimed by unions).   Let us suppose,  the salary of each employee on average of the whole industry for 2 days is Rs1,500/-, then Bankers have lost Rs 150 crore directly.   Thus, wage bill of the banks for the month of February, 2013 will be less by Rs 150 crores.   Thus, Rs 150 crores (approx.) will be the cost of these 2 days strike, and it will directly go out of the pockets of bank employees.  [Remember, in many other organisations, even on strike, salary is not deducted, but is manipulated for setting off the same with leave etc.]

(c) The above referred link indicates that last time, IBA had agreed for an increase of Rs.4816/- crore per annum in the wages.   Thus, this time, the total load will be around Rs6,000/- crores p.a. (It may be even more keeping in view the inflation etc.).  Thus, indirectly we can say that by delaying the Xth BPS, banks are saving approximately Rs 500 crore per month for deploying the same in credit / investment and earn interest on the same.     On cumulative basis, banks will be able to use funds (which actual belongs to employees) to the tune of Rs 500 crs in November 2012, Rs1,000 crs in Dec 2012, Rs1,500 cr in January 2013 and Rs 2,000 crs in February,2013 on conservative basis.   Thus, even if such funds are deployed at the Base Rate of 10% (most fo the banks have higher base rate), banks have been able to earn Rs 40 crores on these arrears which have become due wef November, 2012.   This is the kind of loss to bank employees, when even first meeting with IBA has not taken place.    With each passing day, banks are gaining by deploying the funds which actually belong to employees.

In the above circumstances, now question arises, what should be the strategy.  I am of the firm view that :-

(i) A deadline of 6 months from now onwards should be fixed for final settlement i.e. latest by 31st August, 2013.  IBA and UFBU should enter into this agreement that 10th BPS will be negotiated and settled before this date, even if it requires weekly or fortnightly meetings to be held.  

(ii) UFBU should ask IBA to direct the banks to pay interim amount by 31st March, 2013, based on the minimum amount which IBA offers as a hike at the first / second meeting itself. 

(iii) In case the negotiations are not concluded by above referred date, banks should be asked to pay the arrears alongwith interest wef 1st September, 2013 @ Base Rate of each bank, as each bank will be utilising the arrears for deployment and earn interest on the same.

In case UFBU adopts above line of action, I am sure, IBA will not adopt the delaying tactics for finalising the 10th BPS.   I would also like to warn UFBU that if negotiations go beyond October 2013, then there may be bar on wage hike agreement as Election Commission code may be implemented.   In such a situation, the settlement will go beyond May 2014 (i.e. after the election process is completed).  In such a situation, IBA and new Government will be in no mood to budge to the demands of UFBU, and bankers may have to satisfy with peanut increase in wages.

Therefore, it is high time for the serving bankers to rise and force UFBU to take immediate steps so that settlement progresses on the above lines.

I hope, most of the bankers will agree with me on these issues.   There can be more suggestions, which can be shared by our readers in the comments column below.   I have placed my views frankly, although being retired, I am not directly affected party and will not be loser even if it is delayed by two to three years (only exception is that IBA agrees to upgrade pension!).

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