Banks stump unions, to pay part wage arrears at 12% hike

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 07, 2019 14:48 hrs
Bank (Image Courtesy: Reuters)

Chennai: It's a Diwali bonanza for public sector bank (PSB) employees. Their accounts are being credited with part wage arrears even before the final agreement on the wage revision between the unions and the management.

It's happening for the first time in the India's banking history.

"The employees can opt out or take the part arrear payments. If they take the part arrear, the amount credited will not be less than Rs 50,000 and may even exceed Rs 1,00,000," a PSB employee told IANS.

According to him, the move will swell the government's tax revenue kitty and spur the economy in a small way as bankers will spend the money.

PSB employees are waiting for wage revision since November 2017. Despite 30 rounds of talks between the United Forum for Bank Unions (UFBU) and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) since 2017, wage agreement is not yet in sight.

"It's interesting to see the speed at which the management is working towards payment of part wage arrears, while the wage revision talks are moving at a snail's pace," he said.

On October 1, the IBA had written to heads of PSBs and private banks, which are part of the bipartite settlement, to pay ad hoc amount equivalent to a month's salary (basic pay + dearness allowance) and adjust it during final payments after the wage settlement agreement.

In January 2016, the government had asked PSBs Chief Executives to initiate the wage revision talks and conclude them by November 1, 2017.

"The government has stolen the unions' thunder by paying part wage arrears. Normally, the wage arrears are paid after signing of the wage agreement between the unions and the management," he said.

The management has offered 12 per cent wage revision. Since the final percentage would not go below that, the banks had decided to calculate the wage arrears and pay, the banker said.

Upset at the turn of events, the UFBU in a letter to the IBA on October 3 said, "The decision to pay the ad hoc amount is not just unfair, unilateral and arbitrary, but also a deliberate attempt to undermine the unions' role and their right of collective bargaining."

"Even though the negotiations commenced in May, 2017, only after a period of one year, that is in the discussions held in May, 2018, IBA made its first offer of 2%.A Thus one full year of negotiation was without any offer from IBA.A This delay is also solely on the shoulders of the IBA and not the Unions,a the UFBU told IBA.

The UFBU also said this goodwill gesture was absent in payment of overtime wages/compensation to employees and officers, when they bore the brunt of demonetisation and suffered during the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojana. "Many Bank managements are still defaulters on this," it said.

"We have been insisting on an expedited settlement. Even now we are ready to conclude a reasonable and satisfactory settlement by mutual discussion," C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association, told IANS.

"The last time the hike was 15 per cent. So far, the IBA has offered 12 per cent. They should improve their offer and conclude it at a satisfactory level," he said.

Meanwhile, employees of government-owned insurance companies are complaining that they are not as fortunate as their PSB counterparts.

"In the banking sector an upward revision of 12 per cent has been made. But no such offer has been made to the unions in the general insurance sector," said K. Govindan, General Secretary, General Insurance Employees All India Association.