S Hari Rao
Bank Employees Federation of India in its conference held in August 2023 at Chennai had given a clarion call to organize the unorganized employees in the Banking Sector. Despite opposition from the trade unions against the policies of the government on outsourcing and casualization of permanent jobs, this menace is continuing in banks. The recommendations of the Khandelwal Committee under the auspices of central government, were passed in the Boards of all Banks which prohibits recruitment for the cadre of sub staff and sweepers and instead recommended for contractualisation of such jobs which are permanent in nature. While opposing such anti employee retrograde recommendations, the number of temporary employees engaged in the cadre of sub staff and sweepers are on the increase working temporarily for decades without any basic minimum service conditions, denied of even minimum wages, bonus, weekly paid off etc. Similar is the case of Business Correspondents whose numbers are increasing surpassing the regular employees. They are denied of regulated service conditions, given targets to open accounts, insurance products, APY targets etc. If the targets were not reached their machines will be locked thus denying them the basic service of payment of cash to the rural customers.
The Central Committee of BEFI held in Kolkata for two days on 7-8, October 2023, discussed threadbare, emphasized the clarion call of conference to organize the temporary employees and business correspondents to safeguard their interests and to prevent inhuman exploitation of those section of employees.
Taking a cue from the call, the state affiliate of Indian Bank Employees Federation IBEA (Bihar and Jharkhand) organized a meeting of temporary employees working in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. The meeting was held in Patna on 14th October 2023, presided by the President Com.Ranjan Raj and General Secretary Com.Sanjay Kumar. Both the President and the General Secretary explained in detail the steps taken by the Federation for payment of minimum wages as per government guidelines, for payment of statutory bonus to the temporary employees. It is Indian Bank Employees Federation and its state units affiliated to BEFI, the only organization fighting for the welfare and cause of the temporary employees in Indian Bank. A Central Government Industrial Tribunal Award in favor of the temporary employees was also realized after a long legal battle but the Indian Bank management instead of honoring the Award had filed a writ petition challenging the Award in the High Court of Madras.
The meeting was attended by more than 300 temporary employees working in the various branches of Indian Bank from nook and corner of both states of Bihar and Jharkhand. A Union for temporary employees named Indian Bank Temporary and Casual Employees Association (Patna Field), in short IBTCEA was formed for the States of Bihar and Jharkhand to fight for the cause of the temporary employees and business correspondents under the banner of BEFI. Com Ranjan Raj and Com Sanjay Kumar accepted their request to guide them as ‘Patrons’. Com K. N. Sharma, Com Kanhaiya Manjhi and Com Manjay Kumar were elected respectively as President, General Secretary and Treasurer. In all possibilities, such a meeting and organizing the daily wage earners and business correspondents in all other states of Indian Bank under the banner of BEFI is to be held. A small step in the direction of the call of the conference is undertaken.
BWU greets Bihar and Jharkhand state unit of IBEF for their initiation in this regard.