Historic Eighth Bipartite Settlement on wages in NABARD signed

Rana Mitra

After a prolonged united fight, encompassing all cadres of staff in NABARD since last June, 2022, NABARD employees under the banner of All India NABARD Employees Association (AINBEA) has achieved a unique feat once again to sign the eighth bipartite wage settlement with the Management of NABARD at Mumbai on 21 September 2022. Though it is really a unique feat, still AINBEA and the staff of NABARD are not fully happy with the final outcome, as the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, Govt of India, has thrust upon the employees of NABARD a truncated settlement on wages while clearing the proposal of the NABARD Management. Accordingly, Management of NABARD has offered the same to AINBEA while calling them for final signing of wage settlement at Mumbai on 21 September 2022 curtailing and shifting from the agreed draft Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed mutually between the NABARD Management and AINBEA on 18 February 2022.

In this connection, the principal issued involved are outlined below:

  1. Consequent upon the clearance of NABARD wage proposal pending with the DFS, Union Ministry of Finance on 14 September 2022, post conciliation held at Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) (DCLC) (C)office, Mumbai, both physical and online, on 26 August and 29 August 2022, on the eve of the proposed Nationwide strike in NABARD on 30 August 2022,  the Management of NABARD has invited AINBEA for final discussions and signing of the final memorandum of wage settlement on 21 September 2022 at Mumbai.
  2. AINBEA, as a responsible Association, duly participated in the bipartite negotiation with the Management on 21 September 2022. But, to its utter surprise, it was found that the DFS, Ministry of Finance, Govt of India and the Management of NABARD, had shifted from the agreed draft Memorandum of Settlement [MoS] dated 18 February 2022 signed between the Management of NABARD and AINBEA and what was subsequently passed in the meeting of the Board of Directors of NABARD on 16 March 2022, unilaterally. AINBEA was baffled to find that the Management of NABARD, reportedly at the instance of the DFS, Govt; of India, has offered it a truncated settlement, significantly curtailing benefits like Grade Allowance as agreed, signed mutually on 18 February 2022.
  3. Moreover, the Management informed AINBEA, in essence, that henceforth they will cease to honour the time tested principle of “Equal Pay For Equal Work” by segregating benefits like Grade Allowance for RBI ‘transferred employees’ as defined under clause 3 [r] of National Bank Staff Rules, 1982 and for staff recruited by NABARD since 1984.
  4. In Grade Allowance, in Group C (Class IV) cadre, for Senior and Special Category, it remains either the same (Senior Category), or got reduced by Rs. 350/- (Special Category). It is possibly for the first time after a wage settlement, a category of employees will get less pay against a particular item in revised pay than what is available earlier.
  5. AINBEA is a registered, recognised Association of workmen employees having a bipartite negotiating status as per Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Hence, any unilateral change in the signed draft agreement by the Management is ultra vires of the bipartite agreement and record of notes on negotiation signed on with the Association on 18 February 2022. This may not stand the scrutiny of law of the country and unprecedented in the history of the bipartite settlements in NABARD from 1986 to 2017 through seven bipartite wage settlements arrived at between the Management of NABARD and AINBEA.
  6. However, through incessant struggle of the employees, AINBEA could protect almost all the items of basic structure of wage revision for workmen employees, viz. Basic Pay, Merger Point of DA at par with Banks, RBI at 6352 point of DA index, Special Pay, Special Allowance, House Rent Allowance, Dearness Allowance, Family Allowance, Special Compensatory Allowance, Special Grade Allowance (newly introduced) etc. This means almost 99% of the items of the wages are fully protected after bitter struggle of the employees. All these are at par with NABARD benchmark institution, viz. RBI as was done in previous seven bipartite wage settlements in NABARD from 1986 to 2017.
  7. In this backdrop, AINBEA Central Executive Committee met in a detailed discussions on 20-21 September 2022 at Mumbai and decided to go ahead with the signing of the eighth bipartite wage settlement with strong protest to be lodged simultaneously with the Chairman, NABARD.
  8. AINBEA did the same as per unanimous decision of its CEC Meeting, while lodging a strong protest to the Chairman, NABARD on 21 September 2022, simultaneously while signing the agreement. This pragmatic stand of AINBEA of “ACCEPT AND FIGHT BACK TO ERADICATE THE DEFECIENCIES”, under the extant circumstances, when the attacks on the working class by the ruling dispensation are far too many and especially when the tenure of the agreement is coming to a close on 31 October 2022, with retrospective effect starting from 1 November 2017, is appreciated and emphatically approved by overwhelming majority of the NABARD staff.
  9. However, since the whole outcome was imposed on the employees almost unilaterally, breaking well-settled principles of law, AINBEA decided to carry forward the struggle by all available democratic means.
  10. In this connection, AINBEA, among others, approached the DCLC(C) again, who played a unique and most productive role in bringing about this settlement, to intervene effectively to break the current impasse even after formal signing of the bipartite wage settlement in NABARD on 21 September 2022.
  11. AINBEA has organised a massive gate meeting at NABARD, HO, Mumbai and at almost all centres all over India, post signing of the wage agreement on 21 September 2022 and immediately thereafter, wherein Com. Jose T Abraham, President, Com. Rana Mitra. GS, and other leaders of AINBEA addressed the gathering. They vowed to carry forward the struggle of the NABARD employees, not only to fight for restoration of unilaterally curtailed items of wage settlement, but also to maintain and strengthen the Development Financial Institution (DFI) status of NABARD. For this, both Com. Jose T Abraham and Rana Mitra urged the NABARD employees to be ready for any democratic battle hand in hand with the mainstream TU, democratic movement of the country.

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