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IBA Snubs Senior Leaders of UFBU by Offering 5% Hike -  Is it High Time to Pass the Baton to Younger Generation ?



Rajesh Goyal 

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In its circular dated 21st November, 2013, UFBU has admitted that although it is now over 12 months since 10th BPS has become overdue, yet "there is no significant progress in the 10th Bipartite Wage negotiations even though it was initially assured by IBA to conclude the wage negotiation process at the earliest".   Still, UFBU has handled IBA with kid gloves during all this period.   In this background, the much awaited IBA and UFBU meeting was finally held on 14th December, 2013 (i.e. almost after two months of the last meeting).  This meeting was held when UFBU had already given a strike notice for 18th December, 2013 i.e. strike is to take place within four days of the meeting.  

Inspite of their UFBU brandishing their last resort weapon i.e. strike,  IBA snubbed the G-9 Union Leaders (known as UFBU) by offering 5% increase over the wage expenses covered by the payslip components.   It was so low an offer that UFBU was even reluctant to talk immediately after the talks and they told that the IBA is not satisfactory and thus strike stands.  They did not have the courage to say initially that IBA had offered merely 5% increase.  Anyway, slowly the cat was out of the bag and soon they had to issue the circular.   The UFBU has issued its circular dated 14th December, 2013 (Copy of the same can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE ), which can be summed up as follows:-

(a) Initially IBA told that it would be difficult to take any additional cost on account of wage increase; (This means IBA intially offered 0% increase);

(b) After lot of explanations by UFBU members about high inflation and increase in operating profits etc., followed by lot of discussions, IBA offered 5% increase over the wage expenses covered by the payslip components;

(c) IBA also stated that they would like to cover the wage revision negotiations with UFBU only upto Scale III officers.  (this means there will be separate negotiations or announcements for wage revision of Scale IV to Scale VII);

(d) Government is not in favour of introduction of 5 day banking;

(e) Compassionate appointment scheme is still under consideration of the Government (UFBU is still continuing this demand in the wage negotition, whereas it needs to be delinked from wage negotiations);

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  This pathetic increase of 5% after 5 years,  means, an increase of 1% annually.  I am very much sure, everybody is well aware of the following facts :-

(a) The inflation rate is much higher than the compensation paid in the shape of rise in DA, which results that with every passing month, the wages of bankers in real terms go in negative;

(b) In last few years, GoI has increased the scope of various taxes like VAT, Service Tax by increasing the rate and / or covering additional services in the net.   Thus, the expenditure on such services like visits to hotels, telephone bills, gas supply, have gone up.  Thus, the purchasing power of the bankers, inspite of getting additional DA, is reducing with each passing day.

In nutshell we can say that the salary in hand available for spending is lesser and lesser in real terms or real purchasing power.   In such circumstances, the offer of 5% increase is nothing but a JOKE with the banking fraternity.

Now question arises, as to how IBA can dare to offer a mere 5% increase in salaries after 5 years, when there has been so much hue and cry all around for honourable settlement and high salaries for Central Government employees.  I can trace that it can be one or combination of the following factors : -

(a) IBA has realised that Union Leaders and Bank Unions are toothless and can only barge and not take action.   They can at best go for one or two days strike, which can result in loss to customers but will save hundreds of crores of rupees to banks in the shape of deductions in salaries. 

(b) Union leaders have sold their soul and are ready to bend backward to any extent to keep their bosses happy so that they allow their fiefdom to continue.  They issue circulars after month / two months just to keep their cadre engaged.

(c) Clubbing of issues like Stopping of Banking Reforms alongwith Wage Revision has sent a message to IBA and GoI that unions are least bothered for wage revision and more interested in stopping bank reforms to save their respective territories.

(d) GoI feels that paying reasonable salaries to bankers will lead them empowered to raise their voices on other matters like corruption, NPA etc. and thus pay them low so that poor talent is attracted to banks and they can enjoy the fruits of public money.  This is on similar premises wherein politicians love to keep large population below poverty line so that they keep on struggling for day to day requirements and find no time to raise voice against the corrupt political class.

The future does not seem to be rosy for bankers, as in the given circumstances, it is unlikely that bankers can expect increase of over 12% or so inspite of strikes for few days.  There is a need for drastic steps (even beyond strike) - may be throwing of the old unions.   Young Bankers have to start a new movement as old bankers have already resigned to their fate.  Like AAP of Kejriwal, new innovative methods have to be adopted and the free fund flow of crores of rupees to existing unions has to be cut by starting a movement for change.  Till new leaders emerge with self-less interest, bankers need to suffer as our poor population is suffering.

I am waiting for the new ray of hope, which I feel will come from younger generation bankers  with the help of some senior colleagues who have vast experience of banking.  Retired Bankers serving as leaders and those who are on the verge of retirement need to now pass on the baton to young bankers to challenge IBA and GoI.    Senior colleagues can guide and / or make suggestions to the young people but not interfere in the day to day affairs.  It is something like that happens in our families.  As sons and daughters grow, we slowly stop day to day interference in their life but keep a check if they try to drift from the right path.  There is a strong need to show maturity and retire with honour from public life.

In the meantime, bankers must go on strike on 18th December, 2013, as even the reconciliatory proceedings have failed and unions have issued the final call for strike.  The unity needs to be maintained at this juncture.


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