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Great Future For Union Leaders But Bleak Future for Aam Banker



Rajesh Goyal 

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All of us, specially people from Delhi, have seen the recent victory of AAP in Delhi Assembly elections.  At that time I have started a new website on experimental basis to gauze the mood of public, specially in Delhi.    Just before the elections, most of the TV channels and other political parties had been predicting about 5 to 10 seats for AAP, but two polls put up on the said website had shown that Arvind Kejriwal will win by massive majority.  I used to wonder as to what is wrong with our polls.  However, finally AAP won a decent number of seats though not in tune with what was being polled at our website.   My last article Fixed Match Results in Announcement of Single Digit Increase.   What is 9.5% Increase ?  had evoked tremendous response and strong reactions - including suggestions that I should personally float a union and lead them.   However, today I am not writing about this subject.   (I intend to write about this soon).   Today I am writing about the circulars issued by some of the unions in last four / five days - some of which are either diverting tactics or are to assuage the feelings of the cadres.  

One thing is very clear from these circulars i.e. they are feeling the heat that is being generated through exposes / critical analysis of their circulars  at the internet.  They seem to have now no grounds in their defence for continuous failures.    They seem to be in a damage control mode.  I have come across two circulars (a) AIBEA circular through Union Bank Staff Union circular dated 20th January, 2014; (b) AIBOC circular dated 22/01/2014.  The contents of both these seems to be quite interesting.

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In the name clarifying the issues, AIBEA circular is full of past achievements and rhetoric talks.   Only at one place it gives some clue about the quantum of load that has been agreed by IBA.   It says "By securing 9.5% load on the pay slip components, UFBU has achieved a quantum load of Rs 3000 crores which is the quantum achieved in the 9th BPS.  Thus the per capita / per employee cost achieved in last settlement is already secured, and is a very significant step forward".     I fail to understand that by achieving a load similar to previous BPS, how it can be considered as at par with previous BPS?   To make this simple, let us suppose that during 5th BPS,  if the load was say Rs 1000 crores,  whether similar load on the revised pay scales (and increase in DA during all these)  will have same effect now?  To achieve percentage parity with the last BPS, the load this time will have be much more than what it was in previous BPS.   Thus, it is a pure misleading the bankers by distorting the facts.  All bankers know that last time unions had been justifying lower increase on  the plea that they could not get good hike because of pension agreement.   Now the same unions claim, a similar load to be a SIGNIFICANT  achievement !!  Such logics  are beyond my understanding.

AIBOC circular too is interesting as the same appears to have been prepared in a stereo type and without knowing the facts.  The circular says "..... we have noticed anger, anguish and remarks of our members on these developments over social media like facebook, orkut and twitter".   Although facebook is widely used, but how many bankers still use orkut or twitter to discuss wage revision.    The AIBOC team seems to still lives in ORKUT age, whereas the same has almost become defunct (I am sure Young bankers will agree with my views).  Then the circular says that leaders are aware of expectations and aspirations of young officers and these have been incorporated in their Charter of Demands.   Instead of talking about what is being offered by IBA and accepted as 'satisfactory' by UFBU, they want to wash their hands by saying that the aspirations of officers were included in Charter of Demand.   They appear to be under the illusion that inclusion in Charter of Demands is their Great Achievement. 

I am happy that at least now AIBOC has openly admitted about dilution in bankers salaries vis a  vis Government officials.  They admit in the circular that now the gap in salaries of these two groups has widened hugely through successive settlements.   Till now AIBOC leaders never admitted that we are worse off then government officials.   I remember when one of their top leaders (Mr Khera from PNB AIBOC wing ) at a meeting in Lucknow (where I too was present) claimed that IBA at the time of 9th BPS had offered to put bankers at par with Central Government officers provided bank officers are ready to give up the perks like furniture, newspaper claims etc.  He claimed that such perks compensate better then the loss of pay when compared to government employees.  Even at that time I was of the opinion that these perks are peanuts when compared with the regular loss of salary and retirement benefits.   If such a thing was ever offered by IBA, Union leaders should have jumped on this.   Moreover, such perks do not exist for workman staff.    Now owing to open discussions and data available  on internet,  AIBOC leaders have been left with no alternative but to agree that their is a wide gap owing to successive failures.

AIBOC also tries to justify the delay in conclusion of negotiations by saying that it is a "process" and always taken more than 2 1/2 years in the past.  Thus, AIBOC is admitted about the successive failures to get the settlement in time.  They do not appear to have learnt the lessons from successive failures and are happy to repeat the same this time too.  Why this so called "Process" could not be initiated  a year or six months before the due date, as agreed in an earlier  BPS?  Why meetings are  being held at  gaps of two months or so in last 15 months.  Why such meetings could not be held  on fortnightly basis as it is being perceived now?  Instead of discussing the real issues, AIBOC is trying to divert attention.

By above circulars, it is clear that Unions have admitted that they are in no way able to convince that the demands of bankers put up through Charter of Demands are reasonable.   They have also failed to justify that there is a strong and immediate need to bring parity between bankers and central government employees, as the work being done by bankers is no less important than government employees.  Rather they should have been put across their views that the work in bank is much more risky owing to direct financial dealings and bankers play a major role in final implementation of the government schemes and at present are seen to be the future backbone for financial inclusion on which almost all future government schemes are likely to roll around.   They have also admitted that it is their successive failures since 1982 that bankers are now facing a huge gap between their salaries and those paid to government employees.

Now question arises, who should take blame for the same - Union leaders or General Banker ?  During my over 30 years of banking career, I have seen dozens of strike calls.   At the end of each call, unions have always claimed about its success.   I have yet to recall when union leaders felt that strike call was a failure owing to non participation of its cadres. Thus, cadres have always come forward and were ready to even forgo salary for strike days.    Moreover, I do not know an instance where cadre has refused a hike in monthly subscription.   Unions have always increased these unilaterally and bankers have paid the same meekly.   I think such subscriptions have increased from Rs 5/- per month to Rs100/- per month during last 30 years.  Levy at the end of each BPS has given a windfall gain of  crores to these unions.     In the given circumstances why these Union leaders should not resign and take the blame for their failures to live upto the expectations of their cadre.

This is high time for introspection not only by Union leaders but also by aam banker as to whether they need to continue with the leaders who openly admit about their successive failure since 1982 i.e. for over 30 years now, but still wants to continue so that they can enjoy all the perks through out their life.  In nutshell, we can say there is "Great future for our leaders but bleak future for aam banker".

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