The Negotiations for Serving Bankers Appears To Be Almost Concluded And Now Retiree Bankers Have to Gear Up for their Rightful Demands
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The last two weeks have seen so many circulars and leaks from different units of UFBU that Aam Banker is trying to trace the ground where he is actually standing at present. We have seen each unit of UFBU issuing their own circulars (like they did towards the end of the 9th BPS in February / March, 2010 Ė i.e. almost five years back). Each one of them is blaming other for withdrawal of 4 day strike.
Let us see certain relevant points at this stage, which are likely to shape the conclusion of the 10th BPS :-
∑ American Presidentís official visit is over and Indian government is committed to introduce reforms including bank and insurance reforms;[In some sectors they have already started the same. See the news in ET dated 29/01/2015 : After Barack, Govt Moves Like Beast on Reforms Road;]
∑ Union Budget will be introduced on 28th February, 2015, which itself may contain some critical issues relating to financial sector reforms;
∑ IBA / GoI has realized that by now, through UFBU leaders, they have been able to make Aam Banker desperate and mentally prepared to accept wage hike around 13%, and Unions can NOT now take aggressive stands as they have already given hints for accepting the hike around that percentage.
In view of the above factors, now it is the rip time for UFBU and IBA to conclude, seal and make final announcement on the issue of percentage hike in salary. They themselves have given hints to do so by mid of February, 2015. Therefore, now Bankers can hope that the meager increase of about 13%+ salary hike will be sealed in the first / second week of February, 2015.
Other non monetary issues will be kept like carrot hanging above bankerís head for few more days, so that Aam Bankers can keep on jumping in the hope to get a taste of the same. We already know that the two meetings (one for officers and other one for workmen) of the Sub-Committees formed to discuss other issues, have nothing to report positive except that issues are still under discussion. No issue has yet been finalized and committed by IBA. Although, the final signing of the BPS can be issued towards the end of February or even in March 2015, the agreement on critical issues is likely to be sealed before the budget.
Now coming to the politics of strike. We know 4 days strike has been cancelled though some unions (other than communist) were in its favour of going on strike. The communist unions are in no mood to go for long strike on the issue of wage revision, as they want to keep the buffer of strikes when GoI announces the introduction of bank reforms. Therefore, I am of the view that now chances of long strike for wage revision has almost receded though some unions may take contrary position in the public.
However, bankers (affiliated to communists) should be ready to go on strike on issues other than wage revision, sometime after April / May 2015, on issues relating to bank reforms. They may have to forgo revised salaries on such issues.
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Once the major wage revision issues of serving employees are sorted out and agreements signed, the process of handling the issues of retirees will start. This issue is again of prime importance, as over the years IBA has completely messed up the issue with UFBU joining them. Except the issue of 2nd Option (on payment of the penalty) for pension to serving employees in 2007, pension issues have been completely messed up by IBA by inserting unwarranted words while sending the circular to banks. This has resulted in numerous litigations which have been fought by senior, hard pressed ex-employees for money, upto the level of Supreme Court. IBA and UFBU joined hands to ensure that as many as possible retired are denied the second option (e.g. resignees, CRS employees, VRS employees etc.).
During the last 5 years, IBA has to face the spit on their faces again and again as number of High Courts and Supreme Courts, allowed the appeals of such retirees and they were forced to release pension to large number of such retirees who were denied 2nd Pension option. Still there are some groups who are fighting for their rights.
The Supreme Court judgements clearly indicate that they are very liberal as far as issues relating to pension are concerned as they do not consider pension as a bounty given to employees. Therefore, soon UFBU will be negotiating three issues for retirees which have been pending for long and if not addressed now will bring severe strictures in future from High Courts and Supreme Court when cases are filed by the affected ex-bankers. Therefore, it is advised that IBA / GoI takes these issues seriously and remove the anomalies. The major issues are:-
(a) Second Pension option to left over retirees who were denied this option inspite of clear cut guidelines in 9th BPS. In recent judgement Court has even allowed CRS employees to be given 2nd Pension option;
(b) 100% neutralization of DA to pre-2002 retires and their family members, as some spouses of the pre-1986 are getting pension as low as Rs 2000/- or so.
(c) Updation of Pension (if this demand is accepted the demand at (b) becomes redundant)
I know IBA is not going to accept such demands easily, but may have to cave in on account of fear of reprisal from Courts in next few years.
Once the agreement for serving employees / officers is sealed, it will be necessary that all the associations working for retired employees gear up and start inter-acting with the UFBU leaders so that they are not left high and dry or left to fend themselves in Courts.