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Ha Ha Ha - Union leaders called off Strike when IBA agreed to call them for a meeting - Great Achievement of UFBU ?

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Rajesh Goyal 



Is the above heading appears to be childish?  Yes, it is.    I decided for this heading to just draw attention of  bankers so that at least they will read this article or else it will be taken as a mere news about deferment of the strike call and may not be noticed at all.    It is reported that the proposed strike on 25th and 26th July, 2012 has been deferred.    What is the reasons for such deferment.    The statement by unions says 'IBA has assured to hold the discussions with UFBU on the issue before the month's end and UFBU agreed to temporarily defer the strike'.   After reading this news item, I could not resist but decided to write this article. 



From the beginning, has been pointing out that the proposed strike is ill conceived and there are no real issues.   However, no union leader has the courage to read such articles.   I am sure, lakhs of rupees must have been spent by unions on organising meetings of the union leaders to spead the message of strike.   These leaders must have been called from across the country or contacted through various means.   These great leaders must have also enjoyed the hospitalities of 5 stars hotels, (lower rank may have enjoyed 2 to 4 star hospitality)  at the expense of contributions made by the serving bankers across the banking industry.    It is pathetic that so much mobilisation of resources was needed to MERELY  PERSUADE IBA  to  agree for a meeting with UFBU leaders.   I would like UBFU to release all the letters and follow up action with IBA for holding a meeting on the issues for which a call for strike was made.    How many times, the Chairman of IBA was approached by the  General Secretary  / Convenor of UFBU and was refused a meeting.   Did IBA ever replied to their letters or kept silent on such letters.   Let all the bankers know about the real facts  about such calls and the attitude of IBA  on such calls / letters sent.    Had unions been under RTI, large number of bankers must have asked for this information.   However, unlucky bankers do not have a law under which they can question or seek information from the unions and their leaders. 



If  IBA was not agreeable for even a meeting on issues raised by UFBU after follow up,    then what is the worth of these leaders.?    Can we call them leaders or mere puppets who are afraid of evening calling IBA Chairman for a meeting.    Can they really deliver in such circumstances ?  Are they so impotent that for agreeing a meeting, they have to put all their energies and mobilise the cadres all over the country and issue a call for strike?   It is a shame on the part of the UFBU leaders they have to resort to all this drama to finally agree for a mere meeting with IBA.    It is also a clear indication that how shabbly IBA treats such so called great national leaders of working class in banking industry.   


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Personally, I have always been against such strikes which are in the name of socialism and are politically motivated by leftists to merely show their strength.   Such strikes never result in any good for an honest banker.    The union leaders have to change with the new environment.   I clearly remember,  how many protests and strikes they organised against computerisation ?  The whole industry and public was put to ransom frequently on the plea that computerisation is bad for the country.   Were they able to stop such a move?  No, but delay actually cost the bankers a lot.    Now, can any union leader talk that they will burn computers?   For how long they created nuisance value in West Bengal for stopping computerisation?     Similarly, lakhs of mandays were lost in strikes against allowing of private banks.   Now, public sector and private sector banks are co-existing.    If you go through a list of last three decades, you will find that they have failed to stop anything which government wanted to introduce with the changing times, but on every occasion they poked their nose and created nuisance by declaring strikes on such non issues.



Therefore, there is a need for bankers to monitor the agenda of union leaders and the demands for which they call strikes.  Bankers must resist the strike calls which are for non issues or issues which will certainly come with the changing environment.    I am giving below the extracts from circular dated 13/06/2012 of AIBOC, regarding the issues for which this strike was called:-


"Accordingly, the meeting decided to launch agitational programmes as under:





      Banking Reforms: Proposed Banking Law amendments aimed to grant license to corporates and private business houses to start their own banks. There is an attempt to close down rural branches and opening of large number of Ultra Small Branches thereby privatizing bank operations through Business Correspondents, etc.


      Outsourcing: Outsourcing of regular banking jobs of employees and officers jeopardizing our jobs and job security. There is a need for adequate recruitments and revival of BSRBs.


      Retrograde recommendations of Khandelwal Committee: Attempts to unilaterally implement recommendations on HR matters through arbitrary guidelines.


      Non-resolutions of issues: Various important issues raised by UFBU still remain unresolved such as revised compassionate appointment scheme, regulated and defined working hours, revised guidelines on staff housing loan, 5 Day banking, non- extension of pension option facility to voluntarily retired and resigned persons, improvements in pension scheme like updation, uniform DA, etc"


Click here to read the full circular


Let us review the first three demands logically,  The first question is, how much a banker will be affected if new banks are opened by corporates.  Actually this will give opportunities to PS bankers to switch over to new banks if they have the talent or they can continue with the existing jobs.   Outsourcing of jobs can not be stopped as some jobs can be got done at cheaper rates from outside agencies.  Can you keep international airports clean with government secured job employees.  Unions are opposing about closing down of rural branches and operations through BCs.  Are union leaders are ready to go and work in rural branches.  I can guarantee not even one will move from metro or state capitals.  Most of the bankers do not want to go to rural postings.  Then why resist such a move?  Let BCs recruit local people and provide for cheaper services.  Curtailing of expenditure will only improve profits of the bank.  Do bankers really feel that HR guidelines are arbitrary?  May be one or two clauses can be harsh.   These guidelines have been issued merely because CMDs / Top management alongwith Union leaders were playing havoc with honest bankers by distroting the guidelines and promotions and transfers were at their whims.  


I would have been happy if this strike had been called only on the issues which are mentioned at the last item (Non resolution of issues).  Then focus would have been on the core issues affecting the bankers directly. 



The above shows that the issues for which this strike was called were non issues from the point of an honest and sincere banker, except last items relating to HR issues.   The prioritization of these clearly indicates that HR issues were merely included to show that they are also fighting for bankers.   The call was merely politically motivated and for spending money (wasting money).



Now this page will be available to all bankers in the coming months.   I would like to review these demands every quarter and see what is the achievements of the union leaders on the issues for which they were ready to go on strike.    If they are sincere, they should closely follow up and ensure that IBA issues clear cut guidelines.  I willl wait for the specific results after the meeting with IBA which will be held in this month itself.



At the end, I will congratulate all bankers that they have been able to save few thousand rupees (which would have been deducted if the strike had materialized) on calling off this non issue based strike call.   All Bankers and Union leaders must also remember that frequent news items of bankers going on strike (whether it actually happens or is called off) creates a bad image of bankers in the minds of general public.   After two or three such calls, they start feeling that bankers are ready to go on strike at the drop of a hat.   Bankers must go on strike only when government does not give them their dues like an honourable 10th Bipartite Settlement,  Revision of Pensions like Central Government employees,  Liberal medical facilities during service and after retirement etc.   Let unions not waste their energies in non issues and go for strike  (even indefinite strike) if IBA / Government  does not allow you a decent hike in salary. 


I hope better senses will prevail next time and strike will be called only when all channels have failed and not merely to arrange meeting with IBA.





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