Around 1 million bank employees will go on a two-day strike this Wednesday as the conciliation efforts by the Union government failed to convince bank unions to call off protests against the proposed low wage hike. Additional Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) Rajan Verma met the bank unions, under the banner of the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), finance ministry officials and bank management, represented by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in an effort to avert the strike.
“The CLC tried his best to sort out the strike-related issues but there is no positive development. Though the bankers, through the IBA, said they are willing to reconsider the proposed wage hike, there was no concrete proposal.
Hence, the strike stands,” All India Bank Employees’ Association General Secretary C H Venkatachalam said.
D T Franco, general secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation said about 1 million bank officers are expected to participate in the strike on May 30 and May 31. During the conciliation proceedings, the bank unions told the CLC that a 2 per cent wage hike was proposed in a meeting held between bankers (IBA) and unions (UFBU) on May 5 “which was not at all acceptable, considering the rise in cost of living.”
“The officials from the IBA stated that they have had several rounds of discussions in respect of wage negotiations…in view of the huge non-performing assets or bad loans in the banks, only 2 per cent of wage increase was offered.
But they also stated that they are still not closed and ready to negotiate further,” according to the minutes of the meeting.
Bank unions, however, argued that the wage hike should not be linked to bad loans of banks since it is “not disputed that employees are contributing significantly (towards functioning of banks) through their hard work.”
In the last wage revision in 2012, which was for the period between November 1, 2012, and October 31, 2017, bank employees got a 15 per cent wage hike and AIBOC Joint General Secretary Ravinder Gupta said the unions were expecting a better salary increase this time.
“The volume of business and the volume of work of the employees and officers have gone up enormously in the recent years… In addition, bank employees and officers are compelled to undertake so much of non-banking business and all the burden of doing various government schemes have fallen on the shoulders of the bank staff,” the strike notice issued by UFBU, an umbrella body which represents nine unions, said.
Another point of contention for the unions was the IBA’s decision to restrict wage negotiations to scale-III officers or up till the senior manager-level. However, bank unions are demanding a wage hike for officers up to scale-VII which will include general managers, deputy general managers, assistant general manager and divisional managers. The CLC told the bank management to consider wage negotiation for these officers too, as has been a practice in the past.
Banks are divided over the level of officers that will be covered in the wage negotiation. Without naming them, the IBA representative told the CLC that the six banks were opposed to the move of covering general-manager level officials.
The CLC advised the bank management to offer a fresh wage hike and said “as in the past, wage settlements, the officers from scale-IV to scale-VII were also covered so this time also they may be a part of the wage negotiations because excluding them may cause a fresh controversy which may not be conducive for amicable industrial relations.”
Trade unions oppose…
- Bank management’s proposal for a 2 per cent wage hike
- Decision to negotiate wages for up to senior manager-level officers, thereby excluding general managers
- Centre’s ‘casual approach’ to wage revision of bank employees
- Early wage revision settlement
- Wage revision should include all bank officers
- Adequate increase in salary and improvement in other service conditions
Labour Commissioner tells banks to…
- Cover all officers in wage negotiation
- Revise wage hike proposal