Wage Revision for Bankers : "Kya ache din chalye gaye?" - UFBU Continues To Be As Arrogant As Ever
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(A)Developments Till Date :
Dust and Din of Lok Sabha Elections 2014 is settling down. It is a tribute to Indian people that they have given a clear cut mandate this time and Narender Modi will have more or less free hand to run the country and will not be able to take a shield of coalition dharma to loot the country.
All major policy decisions were kept in abeyance for almost two months on account of model code of elections. At AllBankingSolutions.com too we have gone slow and concentrated more on adding new topics for Bank PO and other competition exams at our other website BestGuru.com. Now once again our focus too will shift to bankers plight on wage revision and impact that is likely to take place after the installation of the new government at the Centre.
It is more than two months that last meeting for 10th BPS was held (it was held on 14th March, 2014), where nothing concrete was discussed barring some non monetary issues. In the circular issued after the above meeting, it was announced that the next meeting will be held in the middle of April, 2014. This never happened. Let me consolidate some of the points for the benefit our readers :-
(a) The 10th BPS has become due from 1st November, 2012. Thus, now it is overdue by over 18 months
(b) There is no progress, except that UFBU have meekly agreed for merger of DA upto 4440 points i.e. upto October, 2011, whereas UFBU should have insisted for merger of DA upto October 2012;
(c) The present DA percentage payable to central government (for the month of May 2014) is more than the DA being paid to bankers, although central government employee’s enjoy much higher Basic Pay than bankers;
(d) AllBankingSolutions.com in an article uploaded on 19th November, 2013 has predicted few things. (See link here to read the full article : UFBU and IBA Now Adopting Delaying Tactics To Tire the Bankers So That They Give Up Their Demand For Honourable Wage Revision. Some of the extract of the articles are as follows :
“Today (i.e. on 19/11/2013) , I am taking a plunge to predict what is likely to happen over a period of 3 to 6 months i.e. upto May, 2014. Please note that I am writing this article on 19th November, 2013, whereas UFBU will be finalizing its next course of action in its meeting on 21st November, 2013 i.e. 2 days from the date when this article is being written. Although I have no inside information about UFBU but based on past trends I predict the following scenario in next 3 to 6 months :-
(a) UFBU is likely to issue a hardline statement after the meeting on 21st November, 2013.
(b) UFBU is likely to announce various agitational programme spanning over a period of 3 to 4 weeks, and ultimately culminating into a strike call some time somewhere around middle of January, 2014;
(c) Just before the strike date, IBA will appeal for calling of strike and both parties may go for reconciliation proceedings, and thereby calling off the strike and the meeting for negotiations may be held sometime towards the end of January, 2014.
(d) It will be around this time that Election Commission is likely to announce Election Schedule for next Lok Sabha elections, and IBA is likely to put the boggy of model code of conduct and will try to postpone any serious negotiations only after elections i.e. May, 2014. UFBU and IBA may also rake up the issue that it is difficult to convince government as MoF wishes to give firm commitments only after the new government is installed. However, I feel these will be all boggies for delaying the matter.
In the same article I have suggested as follows:-
In case UFBU feels that Election model code can interfere with its negotiations, it should seek legal opinion and write to Election Commission (before 30th November, 2013), to know their views, and ensure that Election Commission exempts the same, on the plea that it is a continuous process, which has started much earlier and should not stop when model code of conduct comes to vogue. I think such statements have been issued by Election Commission on some occasions, but UFBU needs to plan it right now. However, I have my serious doubts about the good intentions and good planning from leaders of UFBU who till date have miserably failed their cadre. Thus, I am giving hints to UFBU leaders as to how they need to plan the things so that there is no further delay.
It seems AllBankingSolutions.com has been perfectly on dot in predicting the above.
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(B) Bankers Kept in Dark :
I hope our readers will be able to recollect the above article (which is still available on our website). At that time the above article was very popular and lot of questions were raised about the likely status of talks during election period. The pressure of the bankers forced UFBU to take a public stand that elections will have no effect on the negotiation talks and confirmed that they have analysed the issue and are sure that talks can continue as usual. I never believed them, but poor bankers had no option but to believe their leaders. Aam banker is afraid of raising such an issue at public platforms as union goons heckle them in full public view. However, now truth is out, and following points have merged :-
(a) UFBU were informed through AllBankingSolutions.com and by members, almost six months in advance, that negotiation talks will take will be stalled during elections and thus were requested to conclude the talks before April or at least write to Election Commission and IBA in December 2013 itself so that the talks could have been continued;
(b) UFBU just ignored the suggestions and when under pressure, willfully and wrongly assured their members that elections will have no impact on talks. This was nothing short of making ULLU of bankers.
(c) Just to prove that they are right, they had a dummy meeting on 14th March, 2014, wherein IBA refused to issue any serious issues and meeting ended without any results except Chai Party. To satisfy their members, in the circular that followed the meeting, they again willfully and wrongly informed that IBA has agreed to hold the next meeting in April, 2014 (i.e. during the election process). This was nothing but a ploy to make again ULLU of the bankers;
(d) After issuing that circular UFBU took no steps to ensure that such a meeting was held by middle of April, 2014;
(e) UFBU or other unions did not issue any circulars from middle of April till date (i.e. middle of May 2014) about the status of such a meeting or reasons for not holding such a meeting. Whether they wrote to IBA ? If yes, what was the response and why the same was not shared with the members? If no, then why a precious period has been lost inspite of IBA agreeing in last meeting to hold the meeting in the middle of April, 2014
Thus, in nutshell we can say that UFBU has hardly learnt any lessons from the anger shown in last 18 months, by their members through social media. They are as arrogant as ever, and are taking the members for granted. They least care about their cadre and do not even feel necessary to take their cadre into confidence about the latest developments.
(C ) Changing Scenario :
16th May 2014 has brought a big change in India. For the first time BJP has got majority on its own and NDA has been able to get a comfortable majority to be in power for next five year (barring some unforeseen circumstance). Some of the highlights that will likely to affect bankers are given in brief below (I will discuss some of these in details in days to come) :-
(a) Congress has lost majority and thus economic policies are likely to undergo change. Lot of reforms can be on card. New government may be more bent towards privatizing;
(b) Some of the regional parties have been decimated like BSP, DMK and to large extent Left leaning parties;
(c) Bank unions have a strong leaning towards left and with their decimation, they are likely to adopt confrontationist attitude towards BJP and their economic reform policies. Left parties having dwindling base even in states like West Bengal and Kerala, will like to exploit Bank unions to protest against the Central government policies or economic reforms and privatization. This will directly impact bankers as they may have to go on strikes more frequently on such issues which have no or little relevance for bankers. To sugar-coat such protests, UFBU is likely to use wage revision as a “curtain”. They may like to declare strike on economic issues but may include honorable ‘wage revision’ as one of the demands. Thus, I am of view that if no pressure is created by bankers, these Bank Unions will like to longer in concluding 10th BPS than what it would have been under normal circumstances. Thus, be aware of the tactics that may be adopted for further delay in negotiations by Left supported bank unions;
(d) New government will not be in hurry to settle the wage revisions at an early date as they are under no pressure of winning the elections, and moreover they will have number of other priorities to deal with. Bank reforms may be in focus.
With the BJP government at the Centre, country can certainly hope that “ache din aane wale hai”. . However, I have a strong feeling that for wage revisions for bankers “ache din chale gaye” as UFBU has lost the golden opportunity of settling the same before elections. It is not pessimism but is the most likely scenario, and is a fair assessment from an independent person. (Remember that this wage revision is neither going to increase or decease my salary as I am already retired).
UFBU delayed this to gain more levy but have hugely dented the bankers future wages. Now with Left front being routed (with hardly 10 seats in whole of India) and totally out of political scene, the Bank unions led by left, are likely to be ignored by central government, as they will become much weaker than what they were a few years back. Moreover, poor bankers may be forced to go on frequent strikes by UFBU (resulting in salary deductions) on issues other than wage revision.
I do not think any fruitful talks will be held before mid June 2014. In the meantime, lets hope and wish Modi Government is more responsive and UFBU is able to change its strategy.
Soon I will try to express my views as to what now needs to be done by bankers in the changed circumstances.