Arup Banerjee, a security guard of Bank of Baroda ATM on contract basis, Kolkata committed suicide in the Bank premises on 25th June 2023. For the people at the helm of the affairs, it is just news. They are not disturbed in any way. But the family of Arup Banerjee has lost its bread winner. They are almost in the streets without any means for livelihood. Why this situation has arisen?
Bank of Baroda Management has terminated hundreds of contractual security guards at one stroke illegally. Mr. Arup Banerjee who worked as security guard for 12 years is one of them. The advice given by the Labour commissioner not to disturb the service conditions was scantly regarded. They were not paid wages for more than two months. Having no means of livelihood, Arup took this extreme step of committing suicide. Neither the principal employer Bank of Baroda nor the contractor was ready to take up the responsibility for the loss of the precious life of this security guard.
From early 1990s, when the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) have been driven towards maximizing profit at the cost of service to the people, the human approach has been given up. Aping the private sector and foreign banks, PSBs have started outsourcing most of the jobs that are of permanent and perennial nature in violation of the laws of the land. Practically every bank stopped recruitment of subordinate staff including Armed Guards. The work of the sub staff is done by temporary employees and daily wagers. The job of Armed Guards has been outsourced through contractors. The contractors loot almost 50% of the wages of the Armed Guards. The wages for the Armed Guards are not paid every month by the contractor. They are paid belatedly violating the provisions of the payment of wages act. Several times the Armed Guards are forced to do double duty in the absence of the other Armed Guard but not paid overtime wages for this additional work. There are many more grievances for them which remain unsettled both by the Contractor and the by the principal employer.
Similarly the clerical jobs are outsourced through Business Correspondents in the name of financial inclusion. Several subsidiary companies have been floated by PSBs and the regular bank jobs are routed through these companies. It is another form of outsourcing the primary and core bank jobs.
Now this Armed Guard Arup Banerjee’s death reveals the gory face of outsourcing. The management of Bank of Baroda has to be held accountable for this untimely death. Sufficient compensation has to be paid to the family members for their sustenance. A powerful consistent joint struggle under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) has to be launched opposing outsourcing of bank jobs and demanding adequate recruitment.