Sunday, April 11

Crack within UFBU may hamper wage revision talks

A major crack has surfaced between bank officers and workmen unions over the issue of wage settlement, threatening to hamper the 11th bipartite negotiation.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) — the umbrella body of nine trade unions — which holds wage revision talks on the behalf of their members with the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), is even facing a split if the matter is not resolved fast. The two of the officers organisations abstained from the negotiation table in the last round of talks.

The fight erupted between UFBU members following an IBA proposal of bank-wise wage settlement for senior officers from scale IV and above. Six banks — State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India — have mandated IBA to restrict the wage rise offer to officers up to scale III. These banks proposed to fix compensation for their senior officers independent of the bipartite negotiation, and based on their paying capacity.

In other words, these banks with better financials than the rest have shown willingness to offer higher remuneration package to their officers — from chief managers to general managers.

The 21 public sector banks employ over 10 lakh people. About 3.5 lakh are officers with about 60-65% of them being from these six banks. However, about 90% of the officers in all banks taken together fall in the scale I to scale III category.

Protesting against the split mandate to IBA, the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) — the largest officers’ organization — abstained from the last negotiation talks held on February 2 in Mumbai. At that meeting where two other bank officers unions were present, IBA raised its wage increase proposal to 10% from the previous 8% offer. AIBOC had walked out of the negotiation table on November 30 as well.

“We want expeditious settlement of wages. We have appealed AIBOC leadership to return to the negotiation table,” AIBEA president Rajen Nagar told ET on Thursday.

“If AIBOC does not return to the table, then workmen need to take a view of the situation. We cannot wait indefinitely,” Nagar said.

Earlier, AIBOC criticized AIBEA general secretary CH Venkatachalam for reportedly inciting a split within UFBU.

“He (Venkatachalam) has stated that the present offer of IBA is more in quantitative terms than the quantum paid in the 10th bipartite settlement. He has also said the officers’ associations are creating impediment to the settlement. We strongly denounce unilateral pronouncement of one constituent of UFBU on the merit of the present offer of IBA which is very likely to jeopardize the ongoing negotiation,” AIBOC general secretary Soumya Datta had said last Saturday.

“We seek your immediate intervention at this critical juncture so that the edifice of joint movement do not suffer,” Datta said in a letter to UFBU.

National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) also did not take part at the February 2 meeting while All Indian All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) and Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC) were present.

“His (Venkatachalam’s) statement has been distorted. He has only narrated the truth at a union meeting in Kanpur,” AIBEA’s Nagar said. “The fact remains that we have rejected IBA’s 10% offer,” he said.

The 11th bipartite settlement is due from November 1, 2017.

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