Jago Aam Banker Jago – Revolution Needed in PS Banks to De-Stress Banking Community
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Yesterday (8th July,2014), late night news came that FGM and CH of PNB, who have allegedly been responsible for the suicide of Mr Ajay Sehgal have been suspended. A glance at the Face Book contents revealed a relief on the part of the bankers for the action (though late) taken by top management of PNB. Another striking trend which attracted my attention on Facebook was that each of the Union was congratulating itself and trying to take credit for the suspension of FGM and CH. Even those who in their previous posts have praised and confirmed about one of Guptas being nice person, now suddenly were in the front row to take credit for the action of his suspension. A plain reading of some of the circulars issued post suspension tries to give you LIVE - a blow by blow details as to how that union’s people were the first to reach the spot or receive thanks call from the affected family. Thus the usual race to outwit other leader seems to have taken over the death of Mr Sehgal..
Anyway, the turn of the events has confirmed one thing. Things can be changed if Aam Banker decides to hit back. I am of the view that PNB management was not at all in a mood to take action for suspending the duo nor were unions interested to demand action this far. However, the hue and cry raised by Aam Banker on the FaceBook and other social media / websites forced the union leaders to escalate this issue and soon top management also realized that it is the reputation of the bank which is at stack and if action is further delayed it can make irreparable damage to the already fragile relationship between top management and middle and junior management officers.
The moral of this episode is that more and more Aam Bankers should join social media and participate in the discussions – people who are not brave hearted and fear reprisal may do so through anonymous names. Feel free to raise and discuss issues which you are keeping close to your chest due to internal fear of being reprisal. Daily spare only 5 to 10 minutes and read the stories at your favourite websites and the comments uploaded by your friends. Give your free and frank comments without naming persons and / or bank. This will allow you to vent your anger and you will not ever think of going for suicide. AllBankingSolutions.com has already provided you such a platform. However, ensure that you do not indulge in character assassination of a particular person even if you may not be in good terms with him / her. Also share the good experiences so as to crate a balancing atmosphere. Such healthy discussions and criticism will ensure that your voice reaches the desired ears – may be union leaders or top management. If you are already doing this, convince your other friends also to join social media and give vent to their anger and desires.
Let me now discuss some aspects which have come to light during last few days and which can be the cause of death of Mr Ajay Sehgal.
TR Verma General Secretary, All INDIA PUNJAB NATIONAL BANK OFFICERS’ FEDERATION (AFFILIATED TO AIBOA), in a circular dated 5th July, 2014 has given the following case which is an eye opener :
“We may bring to your kind notice one more recent example of the arrogance of our Circle Head Shri AK Gupta which reflects his arrogant behaviour. One Chief Manager at BO: RCC Chandigarh was also declared as misfit for the branch. It is a matter of shame that one Senior Manager was posted at the branch and the Chief Manager was advised to work under him. Recently on the recommendations of the Circle Head Chandigarh he was posted at Rohtak against all humane considerations. His wife is a chronic patient of cancer. He virtually begged that his wife is a cancer patient (posted in our bank at Panchkula in clerical cadre) and nobody is there in the family to take care her. He was straight way told, “It is your problem”. Is this not the inhumane approach? How people are compelled to take drastic steps like committing suicide? Is this the realistic approach of a boss? Sir, HRD in our bank is a mockery of the system and in fact it is not existing at all in our bank, rather it is at the negative level. Under these circumstances we cannot dream of performance.”
In case the above is true (I do not have reasons to doubt as the same is being confirmed by a well known union leader), it is really a matter of grave concern as CMD of PNB takes pride in calling PNB as “PRIVAR”. Do we treat our family members like that ? The worst part is that the above is not an isolated case, it happens almost every other day in every circle. This brings us to question, what is the normal attitude of Head Office in such cases? The answer will be, that they too behave almost in similar way. I feel CH and FGM learn only from top bosses and follow their broad directions.
Let me quote another paragraph from the above circular, which exposes how people from the same creed / breed / state are brought together by the top bosses at Circle / FGM / HO level to create a gang of officers who can terrorize the lower staff :-
“We also inform the other abrasions of HRD Division at the head office in placements and postings in some combinations against the spirit of the vigilance guidelines. After the posting of FGM at Chandigarh
· an AGM was posted in his office which belongs to his native place from Punjab i.e. Kapurthala.
· Then Chief Manager Retail Hub Chandigarh was posted he is again from Kapurthala.
· Immediately after, Shri AK Gupta Dy. General Manager was posted as Circle Head Chandigarh who was also working previously at Patna with the FGM as his 2nd man. This is not the end.
· One Chief Manager, who was also working in Patna with the Circle Head Chandigarh,had been posted at CO: Chandigarh.
· Even for the post of LDM Chandigarh, an officer, who was also working with the Circle Head during his posting at Kanpur, was found most suitable”
“Why these permutations and combinations? Perhaps these combinations gave strength to the Circle Head for his daring step to humiliate the poor Chief Manager continuously”.
The above is an excellent example of creating a caucus which unleashes terror in the circles and FGM offices. Let me share some of my experiences I have undergone during my service period. There was a time when HRD was being headed by a person from Eastern part of India. Everybody in the Bank could feel how blatantly people from that State were favoured and given plum posts and allowed to create groups. This sent ripples among various sections of officers and raised massive under current of discontent among the officers. At another time, top boss in HRD was from Uttar Pradesh. The people from UP became emboldened and lot of people were posted at appropriate levels to ensure that people from other places find difficult in settling and performing at their postings in that State. Surprisingly, such people had massive support of CMD of their time.
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Can a head of bank working for years claim that he is not aware of existence of such caucus. If he claims so then it is the failure of his intelligence which is absolutely necessary to run effectively any branch, circle or bank. This also means he is surrounded by sycophants and proper feedback does not reach him.
I have also worked in a Branch under FGM Chandigarh about 10 years back. Personally I did not face grave situations during my posting, as I was in main city. However, interaction with Managers in Scale II and III from small cities of Himachal Pradesh gave me feedback as they used to tell about stories how a particular Regional Head used to keep them waiting for branch visit till 9.00 PM or even 10.00 PM. One can understand the stress they must be facing owing to visit of top officials at such odd hours in winter and that too in hills. To receive calls from top officials at odd hours has now become regular practice and is considered as non issue.
Everybody will vouch that most of the Regional Heads / General Managers across the banking industry stretch their so called Manager Meets till dinner time. (Sometimes they are not even offered dinner when meeting ends around 9.00 PM). Late meetings are norm at Head Offices also. My personal experience when posted in field was that meetings by FGM used to stretch upto 10.00 PM on number of occasions and used to pull "Targetted" Managers on filmsy grounds. I used to wonder why Managers’ meetings needs to be stretched upto such late nights. The worst part was that Managers of outside city branches were also instructed to report to their branches by 10.00 AM next morning. They were not allowed to stay in the city for the night. It was done merely to create terror and fear in the minds of the Managers by keeping them under stress. After few years when I was posted in HO, I have seen the same GM being pulled up by CMD (in the presence of juniors) in HO meetings and scolding him and absuing that mental level of the that GM is only that of Scale-1 officer. I just want to ask Union Leaders whether they have never heard of such incidents. If they have heard, what action has been taken in last five years to stop such incidents. When in service, I used to ponder upon as to what should I learn from my seniors at the end of the meeting - start abusing and do maa-bahan of juniors even if they are not at fault ? Frankly speaking I could not learn that art. I am of the firm view that in such a situation, there is strong chance that the personality development of a junior is to be lop-sided. Such lop sided persons when Head a Circle / Region / Zone etc. can always behave the way both Guptas did at Chandigarh. Let readers decide who is the real culprit and how the same can be rectified in the long run (in the present case only Guptas are going to suffer).
Even today if a officer is posted outside his home town and that town is approachable by 3 to 4 hours road / rail journey, he is not permitted to go to his family even on holidays. The same is true even for auditors. By working for 30 years in bank, my mind set too had also fixed in the same direction. Thus, when my son joined a multinational and was sent from Delhi to a client beyond Bangalore for three months, I thought he will be coming to meet us only once a month or so. However, I was surprised when he told me that he will come back to Delhi every Friday late night and then again go to client in South India (from Delhi about 3 hours flight time) on first flight on Monday so as to reach by 10.00 – 11.00 AM. All this will be at company expenses. This facility is available to employees of that company if they are deputed from India even upto Singapore. I know that bankers can not even dream of such a possibility in PS Banks but we can at least think of relaxing the norms so that officers are able to go anywhere on holidays at their own expenses, by merely informing and not necessarily taking station leave. Officers may be merely required to send an SMS to HRD incharge of the Region / Circle confirming that he is leaving the station. This will reduce the stress on the part of the officers and free them from clutches of Circle Heads / Regional Heads / Field General Managers. Will this move hit the profitability of the bank? Can any union leader ready to take up this issue with IBA or top management. Non has the guts even to discuss such an issue with management.
Now coming back to the case of Mr Ajay Sehgal and the follow up that is still needed:-
(a) Closely watch the investigation by Railway Police and Local Police and provide all the relevant material as evidence which may not be available to the family of our colleague. Ensure fair trial for both the parties – it should not be vendetta politics even for suspended FGM / CH.
(b) Attend the Court proceedings and update the same through internet and take steps to provide legal help / expenses to the family so that they do not find any difficult in fighting the case, even if Bank tries to prolong the same.
(c) Ensure that Bank immediately releases all the dues of Mr Sehgal alongwith his entitled funds under various schemes available for the family like insurance etc.
(d) Bank should sanction a corpus of funds for the education and marriage of the children. If it is not possible, let Bank sanction the requisite loan for education of children, if the same is required. Waive the Housing Loan EMIs (if Housing Loan is outstanding) till case is decided. etc etc.
(e) As suggested by me two years back in 2012 (when another PNB Chief Manager died during Managers Meeting), the meeting proceedings be videographed, [ Anybody can click here and read that article as it is still available deep into our links. ] as there is nothing secret about such meetings. Such tapes should be kept like our Backups and to be checked only when needed to prove the conduct of the authorities. (Even Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings are uploaded live for TV channels). One of the union leaders, Mr Krishna Kumar, has given the hints on his FaceBook that their organization wish to support this concept. Let there be unanimity among the union leaders for the final procedure to be followed and bank should issue a circular to this effect. If management refuses, let it be raised in Board meetings of every bank by officer director, and if necessary legal options may be explored.
(f) GoI has been talking of Bank Reforms, and Unions have gone on strike on number of occasions in the past. Let UFBU bring out a comprehensive agenda for Reforms in Human Resource Departments of PS Banks. The Report of such reforms be placed before IBA for implementation in 3 months time. If Banks do not agree for practical solutions, UFBU can give a call for strike and I hope no officer will regret for deduction of wages for such an issue Some of the Reforms for De-stressing the officer community can be as follows :-
i) No branch should remain open beyond 6.00 PM without the permission of Circle / Regional Head, except on account of failure of connectivity or some emergency;
ii) To open the branch / office on Sundays and Holidays, prior permission of Regional Head / Circle head should be needed through official e-mail, which should mention the number of employees that can be called and the overtime to be paid / compensatory leave to be given;
iii) There should not be any need to seek prior permission for leaving the station on holidays, but it should be the responsibility of the employee to report back on time after holidays.
iv) All branches must have the sanctioned strength of the staff, and in case any branch fails to get the same for more than a month, HRD head should be held responsible. There is lot of unemployment in India, let there be proper planning by HRD people so that understaffing is totally ruled out. In private sector we have even staff on “Bench” who are posted as and when business grows. Bank can think of such a pool of employees who are usually used for recovery of NPA or follow up but given to branch performing exceeding well in deposits / credit in a particular period.
v) Sale or mis-selling of third party products should preferably be stopped or at least there should not be any targets for the same. Bank should only note the enquiries received for such products and inform the concerned company so that their staff can directly contact the client. Accordingly, banks may demand lesser commission for the business.
The above are only some suggestions, there can be large number of other suggestions which can be consolidated based on the feedback of the Aam Banker.
Finally, the ultimate question is whether Unions will come together and use this as opportunity to serve their cadre and make their life easier.
I think the TRUE TRIBUTE to Mr Sehgal will be only paid if UFBU launches programme and ensures implementation of the same to De-Stress Banking Staff from Tyranny of Top Officials and change their mind set towards middle and junior staff.
Jago Aam Banker Jago – Join the Social Media Revolution to Get Your Rights