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Are IBA and UFBU  Again  Colluding to Deny Two Saturdays Being Off in a month?



Rajesh Goyal 

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Today is 25th July (i.e. 4th Saturday of July 2015).   It is a working day for bankers across the country.  This has prompted me to write this article.

After the conclusion of the 10th BPS, the only point which brought some smile  on the faces of the bankers was the agreement clause wherein it was agreed that 2nd and 4th Saturdays will be holidays for banks though they equally felt bad that  1st and 3rd Saturdays (and also 5th Saturday) will be full working days.  

The bankers had been demanding for five day working in banks for over 2 decades now,  as it is prevailing in central government, many state governments and PSUs.     Most of the bankers must have forgotten that it was in early 2012, this demand has snowballed and there was lot of pressure of bankers to cede to this demand.   Bankers felt that 5 days week can be declared any time around 1st April 2012.  However, IBA and Union leaders wanted to keep the carrot dangling  to milk the bankers.   Some of you will be surprised that at I  wrote an article in early 2012 (i.e. almost 3 ½ back under the heading : WHEN  WILL  5  DAY  WEEK  START   IN  INDIAN  BANKS?, which is still available on our website.  In that article itself I had cautioned the bankers that  strongly feels union leaders and government are hand in glove on this issue, and they are adopting delaying tactics.    Government can try to negotiate 5 days week by offering lower hike in wages in lieu of 5 days week.   Union leaders are also likely to be  interested in this, as any failure to get reasonable hike, will be countered by them by saying that they have been able to extract 5 days week for the bankers and they should not crib on lower hike on salaries.   By this article we are trying to raise the curtain from the nexus between unions and IBA / GOI”.  


(We have also published  in 2012 another article under the title Status of Demand of 5 Days Week in Banks vs GoI and State Governments.   In this article we wrote as follows : we have taken this issue on number of occasions and asked the bankers to put pressure on union leaders to delink this issue from wage revision and let this be settled before wage revision negotiations start.   However, it appears Union leaders and IBA alongwith GOI are hand in glove and delay the same so that bankers can be made fool and settle for lower wages in lieu of 5 days week. )


Now when I read the above article after 3 to  3 ½ years, I felt that our vision was 100% correct and the nexus between IBA and UFBU was  apparent even at that time.   However, Aam Banker could not see through their nefarious designs and ignored our exposure as they believed their leaders.   UFBU intentionally clubbed this demand with wage revision.   This also makes it clear that we write whatever we feel are the vibrations and after trying to understanding what does IBA / UFBU say between the lines.   It is only future which tells us whether we were correct or not?  In this case, our vision and understanding has proved to be 100% correct.


Anyway, at the time of submission of Charter of Demand (October 2012), 5 days week was one of their major demands for which bankers had been struggling for last 3 decades but IBA and UFBU have been carrying this carrot to extract so much from bankers as possible.  In the process UFBU passed 25 months and finally, when IBA was sticking to maximum raise of about 11% or so, it  again waived this carrot and offered to give 2nd and 4th  Saturdays as being holidays (it means they slashed the demand to half by offering only 2 Saturdays off).    UFBU in desperation decreased their demands from 40% to about 20%.  Thus, finally IBA was able to befool UFBU members and clinched the deal at 15%, increase in Pay in Slip component and 2nd and 4th Saturdays as holidays.


Now just read what did some circulars in between read like :


 UFBU Circular Dated 12th October 2013 :


UFBU had informed about the progress on the issue of  five days week in following words  :

 “UFBU has insisted for introduction of 5-day week in the banking industry for the reason that after introduction of technology, various alternate channels like ATMs, Net Banking, etc. are widely available and being utilized by the customers and hence, it would not cause any inconvenience. Besides it is a common and growing phenomenon globally to have 5-day week to ensure better quality of life”.


IBA’s Response :  IBA assured to examine the matter.


Views of ABS on above discussions :  Expressed in an article written after above talks :

 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).


 However, no one listened to our above referred views.

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Position After Signing of Minutes of Discussions Held on 23rd February 2015 :

Minutes of 23rd February 2015 :

  IBA and UFBU signed the minutes of the discussions held on 23rd February (see the link at ), they have mutually agreed and declared under clause 5 that “Every second and fourth Saturday of the month will be a holiday and the other Saturdays will be full working day”.    At that stage, there were NO if and buts.   NO conditions were mentioned in the said minutes.  

 Bankers had started speculating that it will be from 2nd Saturday of March that it will be implemented.   Later on it was discussed as if it will be made applicable from April 2015.   Slowly it was expected that it will certainly be available from May as final agreement was signed between two parties.


As we received reports about the non seriousness of this issue from IBA, we published our article under the heading Status of Full Holidays on 2nd and 4th Saturday in Banks – Many Hurdles To Be Crossed. This May Remain a Dream For The Time Being  uploaded on 4th April, 2014.   This article clearly indicates that IBA and UFBU were at that stage trying to convince Aam Banker that it will be done but procedures has  to be followed.   Although, in number of comments, our regular visitors wrote that these seems to be self created hurdles by IBA and UFBU to buy time so that issue can be buried.

 What Happened After ABS’s Article :  Having been put on the backfoot by above article, union leaders tried to defend themselves on various forums

How AIBOC, General Secretary Boasted on High Moral Grounds:

AIBOC circular No 2015/20 dated 18th April 2015 (You can download and read the full circular  by CLICKING HERE)  signed by Mr Harvinder Singh, General Secretary, boasted of high moral ground and reassured the bankers  in the following words”- 

   “We also made it very clear in the UFBU meeting that we will  NOT SIGN  any agreement till the time the second and fourth Saturday off in the Banking Industry is ensured or a firm commitment is signed by IBA in this regard giving a time line for its implementation” 

 Thus, to contain the anger of the bankers against agreement at 2% increase in Basic Pay, they tried to show that they will ensure that two Saturdays are declared holidays before they sign the final agreement.   From the heart they were well aware that there are many hurdles and finally IBA / GoI may not be interested in its implementation.

Final Signing of Joint Note and Memo dated 25th May, 2015 :

Finally, by the time they signed the Joint Note and Memo dated 25th May, 2015, the wordings changed dramatically and it states “Holidays  - In terms of understanding dated 23rd February 2015, reached between IBA and Officers’ Association every second and fourth Saturday of the month will be a holiday and other Saturdays will be full working days.   IBA has initiated steps to get clearances from RBI and GoI.  The change will be effective after approval by RBI and notification of the change issued by GoI”.

 Thus, now it was conditional agreement wherein IBA absolved of its responsibility and said it would be implemented subject to approval by RBI and notification of the changed issued by GoI.

 Soon the market was full of rumors which speculated that it will be implemented by 2nd Saturday of June 2015, then rumors were that it will be off from 4th Saturday of June.  As month of June 2015 passed, the goal post was shifted and there were  strong signs, even from union leaders, that it will be certainly implemented from the fourth Saturday of July (i.e. 25th July, 2015) but NO union leader was giving any firm commitment forget about any commitment from IBA. 

The last word we have heard from IBA was through a letter dated 20th June, 2015, wherein IBA informed all the Chief Executives of banks “As regards declaring 2nd and 4th Saturdays as Holidays and other Saturdays as full working days, the Govt of India vide their letter dated 2.6.2015 has given “in principle” approval for the same We have taken up the matter with RBI for implementation of the same with a common date”.

After the above letter, IBA and UFBU are silent.  There was news that ASSOCAM has moved Delhi High Court for stopping this move of Banks, but the same could not confirmed by us ever after scanning the High Court website.   May be this was only a ploy to create confusion and shift the blame from IBA and UFBU to some other external agency.   Who knows such a plea may be made with the connivance of IBA and UFBU as they are well known for their betrayal acts.

Thus we can only conclude that though IBA and UFBU penned that their will be holidays on 2 Saturdays only, yet there is no strong “will”  to do so.   However, being under tremendous pressure from social media, they have failed to bury this which is a part of the agreement (but conditional agreement)  At this stage it is extremely difficult to know the inside story and pressure lobbies working.  If bankers are able to continue its pressure, IBA may have to soon introduce 2 Saturdays being off in a month.   However, if IBA has a feeling that bankers have relented OR UFBU again decides to ditch the Aam Banker, this issue may be left to be discussed only at the time of next BPS !!.

 I hope bankers will be able to continue their pressure on UFBU leaders and get implemented what has been agreed upon.  Whether it will come up – August / September / October 2015, it will depend how much bankers can build pressure on UFBU leaders for taking up the matter seriously.  If UFBU is sincere, let it issue circular indicating what are the remaining hurdles and how they are being tackled.   This will give some confidence to bankers who have already lost complete trust and credibility towards IBA and UFBU.



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