The period of 11th bipartite settlement is over on 30.11.2022. The 12th bipartite wage settlement comes into effect from 1st November 2022. The four workmen unions viz., AIBEA, NCBE, INBEF and NOBW and the four officers associations viz. AIBOC, AIBOA, INBOC, NOBO have submitted separate charter of demands for the 12th bipartite settlement on 21st October 2022. BEFI submitted its charter of demands on 04th November 2022.
Before the start of the 11th bipartite settlement negotiations between the IBA and UFBU, the Union Finance Ministry wrote a letter to IBA asking it to start the negotiations immediately and complete the task well on time. But the reality was that the negotiations were dragged by IBA for more than 35 months and finally the settlement could be signed only on 11th November 2020. IBA’s scant respect for Union Finance Ministry’s advisory was well exhibited with some of the critical demands being made as residual issues!! Only family pension issue was clinched. All other demands, Viz., 5 day banking, pension updation etc. are discussed with the signatory unions with no concrete result so far. IBA’s assurance before the Central Labour Commissioner to conduct the negotiations on these issues every month and settle soon is to be seen only as a ploy to scuttle the proposed strike by bank employees and officers under the banner of UFBU.
Keeping these things in mind, it is to be noted that this year too, the Union Finance Minister had asked IBA to start the 12th bipartite wage negotiations with bank unions earnestly and complete the same by 1st December 2023. The Ministry had stressed the importance of fairness and equity in the revision while ensuring that the compensation structure remains competitive with other players in the banking industry. The bank employees and officers opine that a mere statement by the Union Finance Minister may not cut the ice with IBA and hence it may be imperative on the part of FM / Ministry to have close follow up so that this communication does not end up as it ended in previous bipartite settlement! It is incumbent on the part of the Finance Minister to see that this statement is not viewed only to gain some political mileage.
IBA, in all fairness, should seek the mandate from the member banks to start the negotiations on their behalf with UFBU. It is reliably learnt that two Public Sector Banks namely Bank of Baroda and Punjab and Sind Bank have not yet given mandate to IBA. It is demoralizing to note that the wages of the bank employees and officers are declining compared to the real wages they should have obtained. The demands of the bank unions are to be met by the bankers besides settling the residual issues. Though strange but true, the workmen unions have not submitted their charter of demands in unison. It is the prerogative of any union whether to sign or not to sign any bipartite settlement. The unions have the right to collective bargaining. Hence it would be in the interest of bank employees that the workmen unions step into negotiations collectively and do not provide a room for IBA and vested interests. The UFBU should be in all readiness to achieve a fair wage revision and settlement of the residual issues.