Why step motherly treament to Bank Employees ?

R.D. Bhardwaj “Noorpuri”

The Bank Employees were going on a nationwide strike on the 7th January, 2015 in protest against their long pending wage revision, however, this strike has been averted due to some assurance given to their Unions. The employees of RBI and IDBI were also prepared to join this strike as their periodical wage revising is also being unnecessarily delayed. The employees’ unions had made-up their mind to go on this strike despite the fact that their employers have also declared to cut their wages on the basis of “No work, No pay”. But the basic question arises as to why such large number of banking sector employees resort to strike and why IBA or other government agencies are not allowing them their long due revision in the pay scales and other allowances?

There was a time when the jobs in banks were considered best amongst the government employees as their salaries were better than other government employees. With the passage of time, some of the facilities which the banks employees were enjoying, have been withdrawn slowly – like pension, cheaper loans to the employees for construction of their houses and car loans, and bonus etc. On the other side, work load on the employees continued to increase as government used to announce various schemes for the people which cannot be fulfilled without seeking cooperation from the banking sector, like – old-age pension, scholarship to female children, widow pension, subsidy for the LPG connections, loans to the farmers, NREGA / MGNREGS funds disbursal, unemployment allowance to the youth and now 10 crore new accounts have been opened just in 3/4 months for the implementation of Jan Dhan Yojna announced by the Central Government.

Government utters a few words for providing some facility or welfare schemes for the people but simply forgets that ultimately, its work load is going to percolate down on the bank employees, the number of whom has not increased for the last many years. Rather the strength of the employees has fallen down due to retirements of old employees and announcement of VRS schemes by various banks from time to time. But when the question comes to periodical revision of their salaries, wages and / or some other facilities, IBA puts forward a strange logic that since the consolidated NPAs of the banks are quite high (around Rs. 45,000 crores), their hands are tight and as such, their hike cannot be accepted more than a meagre lolly pop of just 11 %. Very strange indeed, instead of punishing only those officers or senior executives of the banks responsible for causing such a huge dent in their profits, why are you punishing the entire galaxy of 11 lakh employees of 26 PSU Banks? Secondly, why the government does not take any action on big industrialists who have cheated and caused big losses to the banks and other financial institutions?

One more point which needs to be pondered over a little bit seriously – the 6th Pay Commission had given around 30 to 40% hike in the salaries to the central government employees, whereas, the banks employees are requesting for just 23% hike only and that too, despite the fact the during the last 3/4 years only the prices have increased quite heftily making the lives of the people quite miserable. Banks are the real backbone of our economy as they make available funds to the people even in remote villages as far as welfare schemes of the government are concerned. Then, why IBA is giving a step motherly treatment to them by offering a meagre increase in their wages ? This is quite unfair and unjustified. By the virtue of huge power and reach of the electronics media, now everybody is aware that when the question of hiking the salaries, perks, allowances and other facilities for the MPs or MLAs comes, that is done so just within five minutes by thumping of tables. Now why those leaders are not showing the same degree of concern for the bank employees and impress upon the government to do some justice to them as well?

Then, why this step motherly treatment is often being meted out to the bank employees? It is also a matter of great concern for the government to ponder over that the wage revision of not only the banks that gets such a shabby treatment by the government, rather the whole financial sector gets affected negatively by this delay due to irresponsible / lack-lustre attitude and behaviour of the government. The whole chain of wage revisions of banking sector gets derailed by delaying this wage revision of the banks. After banks, wage revision of RBI employees has to be negotiated / sorted out, then IDBI Bank employees, then IFCI, then LIC and UTI etc. etc. If you break the chain right at the beginning, the whole banking or financial sector gets negatively affected by this delay; whereas, the government or the hundreds of other agencies do not wait for even a day to increase the prices of so many essential items and commodities required by the people.

And lastly, it should be borne in mind that the wage revision is due since November, 2012 and in the absence of some adequate hike, bank employees have to daily grapple with rising prices. Hence, it becomes incumbent upon the Finance Minister to intervene and ensure that this dead lock of continued suspense breaks soon and the employees are rewarded with at least 20% hike in their salaries and allowances etc., so as to enable them to lead a decent life, free from financial constraints so that employees also work whole heatedly, free from mental pulls and pressures.