Federation of Bank of India Staff Unions (AIBEA) has given a call for Strike on 30 March, 2022 to protest against outsourcing of permanent job and closure of the branches. This is in continuation of the two days All India General Strike on 28th and 29th March 2022. Altogether they will be observing three days strike from 28th March to 30th March.
Bank of India, in select zones, has either engaged or decided to engage an out-agency for collection and delivery of bank’s cash from one service outlet to another and from RBI’s currency Chests to bank’s service outlets and vice versa. The said project has been titled as “Complete Outsourced Model of Cash Van Services”. This model entails supply of drivers, cash custodians and armed guards by the out-agencies for doing work of perennial nature. The sole intent of introduction of such outsourcing model is to replace the permanent workmen engaged in cash collection and delivery work of the bank by contract workers. It is pertinent to note that delivery of cash to service outlets and collection of cash from service outlets is an important and critical function of the bank and is necessary for doing banking business. Such jobs are of neither intermittent nor sporadic nature. It is of perennial nature. Moreover, such work has been hitherto done by regular and permanent workmen of the bank.
Further the management of Bank of India has floated tenders, in select zones, for empanelment of Labour Supply Agencies (Private Contractors) to supply workers for sweeping, cleaning, dusting of the premises of the bank which have been hitherto done by permanent Full Time Safaikaramchari- Cum-Sepoy in the bank. Similarly, the Private Securities Agencies have been empaneled to supply watch and ward staff in the bank.
Violation of Industry-wide Bipartite Settlement
Clause 31 (h) of the 8th Industry-wide Bipartite Settlement signed between Indian Banks Association and Workmen Unions on 2nd June,2005 reads as under:
“While it shall be the banks’ endeavour to retain/re-skill staff and to develop in-house competencies, they may outsource IT and its related activities in respect of specialised areas where in-house capability is not available.”
From the above provision of the Bipartite Settlement, it is crystal clear that “IT and its related activities in respect of specialised areas where in-house capability is not available” can only be outsourced. Outsourcing any other “job where in-house capability is available” is a blatant violation of the provisions of the 8th Bipartite Settlement.
“Bank of India Management’s citing RBI guideline in support of outsourcing” is totally untenable. “Engaging a private contractor in a job, process, operation and function where the requirement is perennial and permanent” has been deplored time and again in judicial pronouncements.
In 2017-18, the Board of the bank sanctioned 8522 posts of Sepoy and Safaikaramchari-Cum-Sepoy of which 2579 posts of Armed Guards. Instead of taking steps to recruit subordinate staff to fill up above number of sanctioned posts, the management has taken steps to outsource perennial work of subordinate staff cadre.
Closure of Branches
In the name of unviability, the branches of the bank are being closed. These steps of the management of the bank are aimed at reducing Award Staff substantially and forcing the remaining Award Staff with unbearable workload. It would surely lead to creation of toxic work places in the bank. It would not be an exaggeration to say that these steps are aimed towards privatisation of Bank of India.
The need of hour is to unite and thwart the attacks on jobs and job security. “Any reasonable argument against the move of the Management of Bank of India to outsource jobs of permanent and perennial nature and closure of branches” is not taken by the Management of Bank of India seriously. Hence it has become imperative to resist the sinister move of the Management through strike action. The success of the strike on 30th March followed by two days National Strike on 28th and 29th March 2022 will surely thwart the nefarious design of the management and protect the Bank and job security of the employees.
Outsourcing of bank jobs had become the mantra of PSBs. Bank of India is one among them. The employees have taken the correct position of observing a Strike against outsourcing. These acts of the bank management are against industry wide awards and settlements. BEFI had won an award at CGIT in a related matter in Canara Bank outsourcing clearing operations in Chennai. The author has brought to light the attitude of BOI management, which should be collectively fought.
Outsourcing is an attempt and plan for complete privatization. Bank of India employees have understood that and going on strike.
Like this numerous works are being outsourced in various banks. Time has come for the bank employees movement to unitedly wage a fierce battle against this menace.
The issue is not privy to Bank of India alone. It is happening in most other nationalised banks also. It is high time a United action is initiated by UFBU to make Bank managements to abide by Bipartite settlements. Failing to do so may result in reduced workforce, security risk, high work pressure, elimination of sub staff cadre etc. We wish the striking employees of Bank of India, who have chosen an appropriate date for the strike, all success in their strike action