WHERE DO WE STAND?
The 11th bipartite settlement / Joint Note was signed on 11th November 2020. It is on record that one of the constituents, which was in the negotiations throughout, did not sign the settlement for the reasons that some of the issues that are dear to the bank employees, officers and retirees were not part of the settlement. Yet, the other organisations in their wisdom signed the settlement. It was decided at that time to continue the negotiations on the left over / residual issues. The banking fraternity knew that only after protracted struggle programmes, the IBA agreed to discuss these issues. One such discussion was held between IBA and the four workmen unions Viz., AIBEA, NCBE, NOBW & INBEF on 24th September 2022.
Five Day Banking: This issue was raised even during 10th bipartite settlement. Since then, only second and fourth Saturdays are declared as holidays and the other Saturdays are made full working days. Though the demand of the Unions / Associations were to declare all Saturdays as holidays, this issue is yet to see the light of the day. It appears that IBA has not made any in-depth study in this regard and instead is seeking more time for some reason or the other. The sad part is that IBA is not ready to hold an open discussion with the unions in this regard. During the intervening period, 5 days a week has been implemented in LIC. How long this genuine demand of the bank employees and officers would be dragging?
Updation of Pension: This issue is very dear to the bank employees and officers and of course, the pensioners. The valiant struggles by the bank employees had ensured some improvements in pension in the form of family pension. Though the Bank Employees’ Pension is a scheme based on a settlement, why is there no transparency in providing full details? The circular released by the four workmen unions dated 24th September 2022 says “We (Unions) demanded that pension should be updated at the earliest, and suggested that if cost is the issue, the updation can be done in a phased manner beginning from the pensioners of the earlier settlements (5th, 6th and 7th BPS) and with a mutually agreed roadmap to cover pensioners of subsequent settlements”.
In the absence of actuarial calculations, why should the Unions suggest truncated pension updation? IBA wants a scheme of pension updation which may not create much strain on the pension fund; IBA wants a pension updation scheme wherein there may not be many retirees to reap the benefits of such improvements. Alas, all these discussions are without tangible data on pension costs. Why is IBA not willing to present the pension data of each bank and ask the unions to go in for an actuarial calculation as was done previously during one more option for pension? The other issues regarding pension improvement also need to be addressed immediately.
The 11th bipartite settlement period is coming to a close shortly. The bank employees and officers need these and other residual issues to be sorted out immediately.
A re-thinking is needed
It is also learnt that the four workmen Unions have separately discussed the common charter of demands on 6th October at AIBEA Office leaving BEFI. The logic behind leaving BEFI when BEFI has been part of the UFBU is incomprehensible. There needs to be a re-thinking in their approach and all-in-unity has to be forged to fight out the anti-employees’ attitude of the IBA & Government combine.