IBA and UFBU Again Ditch Bankers - October 2013 Round too Fails
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I think most of readers have read the UFBU circular dated 12/10/2013 uploaded on this website ( Link : UFBU CIRCULAR DATED 12th October, 2013 DIAGNOSED - Another Failure Stares Top Union Leaders )
We are getting reports that some of the union leaders are not happy with us due to the way we have uploaded their circular on 12/10/2013. We have presented the full circular without any changes but in a tabular form, so that readers are able to get the truth even if they merely scan through our website. They feel that they have been exposed due to our presentation of the circular. If leaders are not happy, I think our purpose in creating awareness about the attitude of IBA and meek response of UFBU has been served.
The agony of bankers has been expressed by one of our readers, Mr Mohanchandran, in the comments column of our previous article. He says “Is it a negotiation? What is the meaning of negotiation? Shameful. Simply wasting time, energy, money and befooling the banking workers”
Let us try to understand the game plan of IBA and UFBU. A perusal of the circular indicates that both of them are close friends. To me both of them appear to be like two Indian political parties – one ruling the country / state and the other in opposition. They keep on making lot of noises (protests in Parliament/Assembly, Dharnas, Strikes / Bandhs), but when it comes to passing of laws like Lok Pal Bill, Women’s Reservation Bill, they join hands and keep the same pending forever. In between they will raise non-issues / emotive issues and derail the process. After fighting for years, what they will pass is a weak law which is of little use to the public.
Now IBA and UFBU are undertaking exactly the same plan. Instead of concentrating only on wage revision, UFBU is trying to rake up emotive issues like compassionate appointments, reimbursement of hospital expenses, working on holidays, five days week etc. In a long circular dated 12th October 2013, only last few lines are devoted to increase in salary. Thus, it appears UFBU is bent upon delaying the process of negotiations so that they can extract maximum levy at the time of payment of arrears. IBA gleefully accepts this line and answers diplomatically to gain maximum time, like “we have to examine”, “could be discussed”, “would be examined” etc etc. I think only few bankers will not agree will me if say “IBA is a great Diplomat”.
As I was reading the UFBU circular, an old quote came to my mind :-
If a diplomat says, "yes," he means "Maybe."
Has IBA used the word “NO” anywhere? To keep the hopes alive and befool the general banker, Union leaders interpret this as positive sign, whereas these signs are not positive signs, but signs of “diplomacy” and delaying tactics.
Thus, the words like “we have to examine”, “could be discussed”, “would be examined” etc, should be read to mean IBA’s big “NO”. I can not buy an argument that our union leaders are so novice that with over three decades of experience to deal with IBA, they do not understand the above language. Thus, it is absolutely clear that both are hand in glove, and ready to punch bankers as hard as possible.
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Let us discuss the details of the circular one by one. I feel most of the issues raised by UFBU should not be part of wage negotiations or should be part of the “Miscellaneous Issues” to be discussed after the issue of salary revision have been finalized (as these will have minimal financial impact on banks):-
(a) UFBU has demanded to switch over to 2001 CPI Series. I feel it is not an issue for negotiation. I am sure IBA is not going to give UFBU the benefit of any higher DA in case they demand for shifting of to new series of CPI. Therefore, this issue should not be on discussion table. UFBU should merely ask IBA that in case the old series is likely to scrapped in near future, let IBA come with the new formula which should not be less than the old one over the last two years or so. Thus, the ball will be in IBA’s court or time tested old formula can continue.
(b) Reimbursement of Hospitalisation Expenses : Undoubtedly an important issue, but how can UFBU discuss an issue without the details of the offer. Has IBA given the details of “Medical Insurance Scheme”? Let IBA give the detailed Scheme and its financial implications. Then let it be widely discussed among the members and finally to be discussed under "Miscellaneous Issues" as the last part of negotiations.
(c) Compassionate Appointments: Most of the bankers have already expressed their views on this issue that it should not be on the main agenda of the UFBU. It should not form part of the bipartite settlement as it affects only a small section of the banking community. It should be discussed separately as it is an emotive issue.
(d) Cost of Superannuation : First of all let IBA spell out what are the additional benefits they are offering under superannuation, and what is total cost of the same. In case it is merely 2% to 3%, then UFBU should not fight for separate cost, but higher rise in total wage bill including cost of superannuation.
(e) Five Day Week : I fail to understand that how come this is part of Wage Revision? This is a part of international practice and if 5 days week is introduced, it will be only at the cost of increase of ½ to 1 hour on daily basis. Thus, it is not a charity or benefit to staff, it is only rationalization of the working hours so that Bank can save on expenditure and country can save on petrol and electricity. It is a blunder that UFBU has discussed this as a part of the Wage Revision. I have been writing for last two years that it should have been settled before commencement of 10th BPS negotiations. Now, UFBU should not accept lower wages just to go for 5 days week, and this matter should be discussed as a separate issue and not part of Wage negotiations. It should be clubbed with the IBA's demand for rationalisation of holidays as per international practice (discussed below).
(f) Introduction of CTC and Variable Pay : IBA has in their previous discussions has just fired an arrow in the dark. In my previous article also I have suggested that let first IBA give the present CTC of each post and the offer they make under revision. In the absence of the details as to what will form part of CTC, it is like beating the bushes and making fool of the cadre that it will lead to lower wages.
(g) Wage Revision of Officers : UFBU needs to merely insist that continuity should be maintained as there has been no major changes requiring this change. UFBU should tell that IBA has already wasted 1 year and it can suggest that the modalities for such a change can be discussed after completion of 10th BPS and if an amicable solution is arrived, the same may be implemented from 11th BPS.
(h) Directions to Declare Holidays Under NI Act : This again should not be part of the Wage revision negotiations as it does not affect salaries / expenditure of the banks. Let IBA and UFBU give their respective suggestions to be discussed after wage revision has been implemented. I am of the strong view that in case IBA wants to adopt international practice of only three to four holidays across India, UFBU should suggest (i) implement 5 days week as per international practice; and (ii) declare 3 national holidays (Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti) + 10 additional Festival Casual Leaves (which may be availed by the bankers as per his religious beliefs or unavailed festival CLs be automatically encashed on 31st December, 2013. I think such an agreement will be acceptable to majority of the bankers and it will meet the international practice.
(i) Working on Holidays / Sundays : This is again an issue which should not have been raised at wage revision discussions. Fixed hours are already decided and Unions can always take a stand that our cadre will work within those hours. This can be discussed as a part of "Miscellaneous issues" and not part of wage negotiations. UFBU can suggest that (a) A banker can be called on a holiday / Sunday only when prior approval of Circle Head / DGM has been obtained by the branch manager / division head, and every banker who is required to work on holidays should automatically be entitled for 200% of the Basic+DA. (b) No banker can be asked to work for maximum of 13 days in continuation – which will mean that bank will have to give an off compulsorily on alternate Sundays. (c) CH / DGM should have powers to call any official on Sundays / Holidays only maximum for 10 days in a year depending on exigencies of work; (d) Each bank should fix the upper limit for Sunday / Holiday expenditure and it should be placed to Board on quarterly basis.
(j) Wage Revision and Increase in Wages : I am shocked to read IBA’s response “IBA expressed its inability to respond in the absence of mandate from the authorities concenred “. I have one simple question as to what was the purpose of IBA to come to bilateral talks if they do not have mandate from the authorities. Did Mr R K Dubey had the mandate to share tea with the Union leaders? Did all banks gave him in writing a mandate to share biscuits / snakes at the meeting? What are Mr Kamath and Mr Dubey, as representatives of IBA, doing for last one year ? Have they not even got a mandate to go upto what extent in negotiations? If they come to negotiating table so ill-prepared, I am sure they must have gone the similar way when they go for recovery of NPAs from big corporates like KingFisher. Can they say so to MoF, RBI that when they met KingFisher bosses, they did not discuss anything as they have gone to the meeting without a mandate of Board and came back by merely chating and sharing tea? It is nothing short of shame on the part of IBA and UFBU to acknowledge that this has happened in the meeting. Now the whole world can easily guess as to why NPAs are rising in big accounts, as it is obvious that CMDs / EDs / GMs go to meetings without mandate and enjoy tea and snacks and end the meeting with remarks that they do not have the mandate to talk. I remember, even if we used to send a Scale I or II person in a meeting or for recovery proceedings, we used to brief him and tell what he can commit in the meeting / lok adalat etc. UFBU should always boycott any talks where IBA representative says he does not have a mandate. Let IBA make it public the mandate they have been given by so called “authorities”
Union leaders need to realize that they already have lost the crucial time for wage revisions and bankers are fast losing faith in them. This round of talks was held exactly after two months and now the salary revision has already become due for almost an year. Every passing week, weakens the strength of unions to negotiate.
I have tried to give some of the suggestions, based on the feedback I get from the field, which I feel will be acceptable to majority of the bankers. However, bankers are free to correct or amend or suggest some new dimensions (in the DISQUS / Comments columns at the end of the article ) to the demands of the bankers on the issues listed in the circular. If union leaders feel necessary they can go for referendum among the bankers, but do something for bankers to reduce their agony.