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Insensitive and Insincere IBA Forced to Pre-pone Negotiating Meeting to 17th January, 2014



Rajesh Goyal 

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As per law, a Reconciliation Meeting was held between IBA and  UFBU as bankers had given a strike notice for 20th and 21st January, 2014.    The proceedings were conducted by Shri B K Sanwaiya CLC (C).   Before giving my comments, I would like to quote the full text of the circular issued by UFBU after the said proceedings.

“Subsequent to issuance of Notice by UFBU for 48 Hours’ All India Bank Strike on the 20 th and 21st  January 2014, the conciliation meeting was held today at New Delhi.   The proceedings were conducted by Shri B.K. Sanwariya, CLC(C).   The meeting was also attended by the officials from Department of Financial Services. IBA  was  represented  by  Shri  M.V.  Tanksale,  Chief  Executive  Officer,  Shri  K.  Unnikrishnan,  Deputy  Chief Executive Officer and other officials.

 The  leaders  of UFBU  argued  that  the  meetings  are  being  held  with  much  delay  and  there  is  no seriousness on the part of IBA to conclude the bilateral discussions at the earliest.   UFBU also stated that the offer of 5% given by IBA is too low.

 The representatives of IBA stated that so far five rounds of meetings were held and considering the constraints of banking industry on account of increasing NPAs and also the rising pension cost, the affordable offer was given by IBA.

 The Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) suggested that another round of talks shall be held between IBA  and  UFBU  to  find  amicable  solution  and  further  meetings  should  be  held  at  regular  intervals,  say fortnightly, to settle an early wage revision.   Agreeing to the suggestions made by CLC(C), the representatives of  IBA  offered  to  hold  negotiations  with  the  representatives  of  UFBU  on  17th  January  2014.    UFBU  has responded and said that it will attend the negotiation with an open mind and also conveyed that the decision on strike will depend on the outcome of the meeting to be held on 17th January 2014.

 We advise all our affiliates and members to go ahead with the agitational programmes as advised earlier.   The outcome of the proposed meeting on the 17th January 2014 will be informed in due course".

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Our Comments :

Finally, CLC has forced IBA to pre-pone the negotiating meeting for 17th January, 2014 and UFBU has not yet withdrawn the strike call and a decision will be taken only after the said meeting.   I feel this was the forgone conclusion.   Why ?  I know (with my legal knowledge) that CLC always tries to convince both the parties that a strike should not take place.   I can only conclude from the above episode that ONE  of the following is TRUE:-


(a) IBA officials are so novice and fool that they do not understand the basic rules of law in India and inspite of strike notice for 20th / 21st January 2014 strike, they felt that CLC would allow them to hold negotiating meeting after the strike date.


(b) It was a fixed match between IBA and UFBU to fool the cadre and UFBU wanted to show that they are genuinely fighting for the cause of the aam banker. 

It is for our readers to decide as to which of the above is true.   However, what I have concluded from the stand of IBA is that it is a insensitive and insincere  body and reflects poorly on its management.  At the meeting,  IBA  was  represented  by  Shri  M.V.  Tanksale,  Chief  Executive  Officer,  Shri  K.  Unnikrishnan,  Deputy  Chief Executive Officer.  Both these IBA officials are senior officers with wide experience.   Both of them must have flown to Delhi with their full team and wasted at least over 24 hours to be out of their Mumbai office.   It must have costed the IBA few lakhs of rupees for travelling expenses, hotel expenses, hiring of lawyers etc. etc.   The IBA officials could not spare few hours before 20th January for meeting with UFBU but were ready to come to Delhi and present themselves before a junior Court official like CLC.   Had they agreed earlier itself to fix a meeting before the strike day, they would have been spared from all the trouble to come to Delhi to attend CLC meeting.   Anyway some of them would be happy to have a trip to Delhi and  meet their old friends / earn some additional DA.    What does this reflect about IBA and the team which heads this body?  UFBU circular clearly says that IBA itself offered to negotiate on 17th January, 2014.  What stopped IBA to offer this date to UFBU even a day or two before CLC meeting?   This kind of attitude forces one to think that there is fixed match between IBA and UFBU.    Painfully I have to conclude that IBA and its top officials  lack vision, knowledge of law and sincerity for resolving the issues.

I still remember the days when about 35 years back, my lecturer while teaching Industrial Dispute Act during my course of Diploma in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management, taught the class that strike is the last weapon in the hands of workers, and lock out is the last weapon in the hands of management, and both of these must be avoided under all circumstances.  ( I like to call them Brahamastras i.e. to be fired only when nothing else works out).  I expected that senior bankers like Mr M V Tanksale and Unnikrishnan to be aware of such ground rules of Human Resource Management and they could have easily offered UFBU a negotiating date before the strike date itself.  It seems they have never studied such subjects nor have learnt from their experience of over 3 decades in banking sector, or else they would not have behaved the way they did in this episode. 

Anyway, now meeting is scheduled for 17th January, 2014.  What should be the agenda of UFBU and IBA?  I am happy that UFBU has still not withdrawn the strike notice as the past records of IBA have not been encouraging.   To have a meaningful dialogue, IBA must come with a firm offers and which give the bankers a honourable settlement.  They must come with a minimum offer of 15% to 20% to start the negotiations.  Any offer below 15% will force UFBU to continue with the strike as aspirations of the bankers are much higher.    I am of the opinion that if IBA offers a minimum 15% raise (with scope of further negotitions), UFBU should postpone the strike and should not insist for strike even if IBA is not giving any commitments on the other issue of stoppage of bank reforms.  The fight against bank reforms should be left to its political wing and taken up in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

Bankers needs to watch UFBU and IBA closely and keep pressure so that they are not befooled once again by the match fixing.

I wish better senses to prevail upon IBA so that strike can be avoided.   IBA needs to understand the aspirations of bankers.



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