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Unions Were Ready To Use Their Last Weapon -  Strike.    IBA Coolly Says It Does Not Have Mandate to Negotiate.     Are IBA and Union Leaders Not Making Fool of Bankers ?

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Rajesh Goyal 


About a week back I have written my views under the title Ha Ha Ha - Union leaders called off Strike when IBA agreed to call them for a meeting - Great Achievement of UFBU ?  Lot of readers liked the article, but  somewhere I was wondering whether I am more harsh on union leaders ?   Some may have dubbed me pessimistic  and some advised me that I should have waited at least for the outcome of the meeting.    This kind of feedback give me feeble hopes that I may be proved wrong and IBA and union leaders may be able to present something good to the bankers or at least show a minimal progress on some of the issues.   I was waiting for the meeting and wanted to write something good and in praise of union leaders. 


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Alas, that was not to happen.   A meeting between UFBU and IBA was held on 24/07/2012, and the details have been released by AIBOC in a circular available at their website.   On reading the contents of the said circular,  I was shocked.   Slowly it is becoming more and more clear that IBA and UFBU are in hand in glove in cheating the bankers, and are least interested in negotiated settlement on issues affecting general banker.    Before, we arrive at more conclusions, let us see some of the contents of the circular.  


The said circular clearly mentions that we (i.e. UFBU ) took up / discussed  about the following major issues with IBA  :-



(a) Number of guidelines are being issued by the Government on HR matters which have been bilaterally settled in the Banks.


(b) We strongly expressed our protest against the undue delay in implementing the revised scheme on compassionate ground appointment and financial compensation.


(c) We submitted that instead of resorting to adequate recruitments in the Banks through revival of BSRBs, there are attempts to outsource the regular banking jobs.


(d) our important demands like improvements in pension scheme, regulated working hours for officers, uniform guidelines on staff housing loan, etc.



At first glance it appears that UFBU is doing a reasonably good job.    A mere peep into each of above demands shows that how hollow are these demands and are not likely to be of any immediate benefit to majority of the bankers.



(i) Union leaders and Bank management are hand in glove for opposing the guidelines issued by government on HR matters.  Why?  Bank management and Union leaders are not opposing these guidelines for the benefit of honest and hard working banker.  Each one of them is opposing that they are left with few options to adjust union leader in city branches and promoting their own men by changing HR policies at their whims and fancy.   What is the problem if guidelines issued by government are strictly enforced for each and every banker?   However, in case any specific guideline is not in the interest of the bankers, UFBU should take up that issue rather than opposing the guidelines being issued by Government to curb the large scale malpractices in promotions and transfers.   Union leaders should take up specific clauses which they want to be scrapped along with logical reasons as to why these are not in the interest of honest and hard working bankers.



(ii) The issue of compassionate ground appointment is pending for over a decade now.  No doubt it has social security dimensions, but it affects only a very small segment of bankers.  My experience is that about 80% of the people who were appointed on such grounds were misfit for the jobs and resulted in embarrassment for the employee and the managers.   Therefore, this issues needs to be discussed separately and may be one time compensation in the shape of FD etc. with regular interest income be demanded.  Or let banks go for Rs50 lakh term insurance for each employee.  The premium of such insurance is quite low and can be part of the discussions of 10th BPS.    To call All India strike on the issue by which minimal employees are likely to get some benefit is not desirable.



(iii) Unions want the recruitment through BSRBs and more recruitment.  Is it not interference in the affairs of the banks ?  Banks are recruiting in such a large number that quality of the new recruits for smaller banks is being compromised.   From where will BSRBs bring more suitable candidates.   Now IBPS is conducting  All India tests and banks are recruiting clerks and officers from such a lot in huge numbers.    Who were on the board of BSRBs ?  Majority were bankers / ex-bankers.   Then, how will it be better option to reruit through BSRBs then present system?  Can union leaders explain this.   Certainly unions can oppose if such recruitment is in private hands or without any tests and at sweet will of the management.   Thus, this demand is unfounded and is not an issue for the present serving bankers.    This actually means that unions have no faith in the capabilities of the recently  recruited  officers and clerks through IBPS exam.  If they do not have faith in these young and best available lot in the job market, then will unions refuse them membership?  Why UFBU wants to divide bankers into young (recently recruited) and old groups?



(iv) The demands like improvements in pension scheme, regulated working hours, uniform guidelines on staff housing loan etc. are no doubt for the benefit of the employees, but have unions submitted the details of the scheme they are demanding.   Let them put the details of these demand on their website and send letters to Government of India asking for point wise reply in a time bound manner.   If no reply is received, RTI can be used to get the details about the views of the officials who had handled such letters.  Let such replies be in public domain for few weeks and build pressure through various lobbies of Members of Parliament, Press Conferences etc rather than resort to strikes.  However, all these should take place in a transparent manner.  If nothing happens then only strike call should take place.  Remember, strike is the last weapon in the hands of unions.  This should be judiciously used like Brahmastar.



In addition to above, what has shocked me is the IBA's statement that it "has limitations of negotiating only on those issues for which the member Banks give their mandate to IBA".  Does this mean that IBA has not cared even to take mandate for discussing / negotiating on the issues for which the strike was called.    Why IBA failed to take mandate of the banks before coming to talks.    How UFBU members allowed IBA to take plea that it does not have the mandate.    Did IBA officers came only to have Lunch and take their TA / TD, and make fun of UFBU leaders ?    After the conciliation meeting for deferring the strike, why IBA has not obtained the mandate of the government before coming to the meeting.     Does this not mean that IBA does not care for any UFBU leaders or Chief Labour Commissioner and comes to the meeting without mandate or some offers.   If IBA did not have mandate, why UFBU has gone to meeting ?  Has UFBU reported the matter to Chief Labour Commissioner and informed that IBA came to meeting without any mandate.   It is really disgusting to read all this.



The above shows that IBA and Union leaders are hand in glove and only making fool of the bankers.  Both of them adopt these tactics for their own respective survivals.  At the end AIBOC in its circular says IBA "could not give positive commitment on any of the issues nor agree for time bound solution to our demands".



As I am towards completing my article, I have received an email from one of readers, Mr Arun Kumar, who has rightly raised a valid question about the silence of UFBU in its circular about IBA's letter dated 17/7/2012 submitted to CLC wherein IBA has charged that UFBU had actually agreed not to extend 2nd Pension option to specified categories.  Why UFBU and AIBOC are silent and not challenged IBA on this issue.   Why UFBU and AIBOC go to Court on this issue.   This shows that connived with IBA in denying 2nd Pension option to select category of retired bankers. 




UFBU can still claim that "This was a Great Meeting for Great Demands".    Their paid workers (in cash / kind, location specific transfers and promotions etc.) will continue to shout slogans like Long live UFBU and IBA !!  Let bankers beg on the streets and union leaders enjoy on the subscription collected in lakhs of rupees every month.



If you want some results, create awareness among as many bankers as possible.   If you agree with the contents of this article,  send a link to this page to each and every banker you know or you will continue to suffer.







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