We come across several instances of public sector bank managements’ contemplating outsourcing of bank jobs. One such contemplated attempt is outsourcing of House keeper-cum-peon jobs in Canara Bank.
Canara Bank top management has instructed its circle offices to enter into an agreement with contractors through whom the House keeper-cum-peons will be outsourced. Accordingly, many of the circle offices of Canara Bank have come out with an inter-office memorandum advising its administrative units and branches to make alternate arrangements for cleaning and maintenance of its premises.
Canara Bank Staff Union (BEFI) has written a letter, in January this year, asking the bank management to rescind from outsourcing the bank jobs which was in violation of the industry-wide bipartite settlements and awards.
As some of the circle managements went ahead to outsource cleaning and maintenance jobs, the Staff Union was left with no other option but to take to legal remedy. Sequel to this, the Union has raised industrial disputes before the Regional Labour Commissioners at Thiruvananthapuram and Pune.
A similar inter-office memorandum was released by Chennai circle office against which Canara Bank Staff Union complained to the Regional Labour Commissioner ©, Chennai seeking action against the Management under sec. 29 of the Industrial Disputes Act and in the meantime to advise the circle management to maintain status quo as envisaged in Sec 33 of ID Act, 1947.
The 8th bipartite settlement clause 30 (h) states: While it shall be the bank’s endeavour to retrain/re-skill staff and to develop in-house capabilities, they may outsource IT and its related activities in respect of specialized areas where in-house capability is not available. The settlement does not deal with outsourcing housekeeping jobs, as they are permanent in nature and where in house capabilities are very much available.
Many numbers of daily wage earners are now engaged by the said local bank management to do housekeeping jobs at branches and administrative offices. Through such inter-office memorandum, they are contemplating to disengage these persons who have been working diligently for several years. Discontinuing their jobs would amount to retrenchment which is prohibited in the public sector banks. The jobs are perennial in nature and hence outsourcing them is clearly in violation of awards and settlements.
A notice has been served on the Canara Bank, Chennai circle management with an advice to maintain status-quo as envisaged under section 22 (2) (d) and 33 of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
With the advent of neo-liberalism and profit being the central theme, outsourcing of bank jobs is frequently resorted to. The trade unions have a bigger role to play in countering such acts of the bank managements and ensure that the workers are not exploited.