Some Suggestions for UFBU by Aam Banker
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While congratulating the UFBU for finally clinching the 10th BPS, some points need to be pondered over in a fair and just way, without prejudice:-
1. If the final goal was just 15 %, it should have been achieved within a few months, at least before the general elections. This rise, especially after such a long period of about two and a half years, cannot be called a satisfactory one (at least, please do not call it a historic achievement, dear leaders)
2. The UFBU could, at least have brought down the current settlement period by a year or two with this paltry rise, in view of the next Central Pay Commission coming into force shortly. (They can still raise this point)
3. There is nothing like an achievement in two Saturdaysí off in a month. While counting the paltry annual gain of a few hours, we ignore the loss of holidays falling on Saturdays and inclusion of these Saturdays falling during leave periods. Had we got 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays as holidays, it would have been a better option. If this was done, the bank employees could take up their works relating to other government offices that remain open on these Saturdays. (This is not a difficult point and the unions can still modify the agreement if there is a will among them). Alternatively, the other Saturdays should not have been made full working days; otherwise this is not an achievement at all.
4. The wage hike, under the prevailing circumstances, may be called satisfactory if we go by the arguments of the unions, but in that case other issues of justice, parity, non-discrimination which have crept in during the past years must have been cleared or must be cleared during the next talks. (The issues are narrated hereunder)
5. When there were talks of bringing parity with Central Govt. Employees among the bankers, at least, the same among the PSBs (including SBI) inter se must have been brought or must now be brought.
6. There was no justice or fairness in the amounts got contributed to the pension fund by the pension optees of the second option, let alone the very unjust idea of any extra contribution. The same amount contributed by a person retiring in 2010 itself (when the extra contribution was made) and by the person retiring in 2020 cannot be placed on par as with the same amount of extra contribution the person retiring in 2010 would get immediate pension benefit whereas the person retiring in 2020 would get it after a decade. At least, this anomaly of the 9th BPS needs to be rectified during the next talks. This may be by way of paying interest on the extra contribution till the date of retirement. In fact, if the issue of restoration of old pension scheme for the NPS holders can rightly be reopened, why not the refund of extra contribution by second pension optees be demanded?)
7. It is quite unfair that the new recruits during the 9th BPS negotiations got full arrears as against their senior counterparts who got negligible arrears due to heavy contribution towards the pension fund. Such situation has never arisen in the past and must be rectified now.While the unions have rightly included the issue of bringing NPS holders to the old pension scheme in their demands, in fact, it is just a populist demand which is never going to be achieved in view of the fact that the new central government employees from 2004 too are under the NPS. The achievable thing was and still is the restoration of CPF of 12% on Basic + D.A. if the old pension scheme cannot be brought back as the banks contribute the same even under the NPS.
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8. In fact, if the new recruits in SBI can still have the old (third benefit) pension scheme, why not their counterparts in other PSBs have the old pension scheme? But, to hope for this under the prevailing mindset of the union leadership and under the current circumstances, looks impossible just like the just and fair thing of giving third benefit pension to all PSB employees on the principle of equal pay for equal work. However, these discriminations can still be removed with the paltry wage hike agreed upon if we have firm determination.
9. While the difference in special allowances in SBI and other banks may be justified in view of difference in duties, there is no justification in difference in Professional Qualification Pay as the employees get it for the same qualifications in all banks.
10. It must be ensured that there is no discrimination among cadres in the issues relating to welfare of employees.
11. The issue of reduced bank holidays in many States needs to be taken up now. The State governments declare different number of holidays for their own staff and under the negotiable instruments act. Either the past position of the same number of holidays should be restored or the guarantee of minimum 23.5 holidays in a year, with compensation for the lesser number of actual holidays than this by way of extra casual leave, as in LIC, must be achieved. The same bank employees in different States now get different number public holidays. At least this should be resolved in the above manner.
12. There is no logic in allowing Special Sick Leave up to 4 days without medical certificate (as is learnt to have been agreed upon) while continuing the same requirement for regular sick leave. Small sickness does not need consultation of a doctor always and it has no relation to the type of sick leave an employee avails for the same. In fact the period should be 5/6 days to enable a sick employee to have sufficient rest by combining weekly off/s.
13. Availing of agreed leave must be made right of the employees. When no exigencies of work come into picture when employees are deputed to election duty en masse, why this reason should factor in while granting eligible leave to the employees?
The leaders have still a chance to regain the past glory of the unions if at least the above points of justice, non-discrimination and fairness are considered before concluding the final settlement. It will be great if the leaders take the above comments as suggestions for improvement during the next rounds of talks for concluding the final settlement.