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  The role of INTUC affiliated in the bank employees' trade union movement:  
  In the era of Bank Industrial Tribunals (1949-1960)  
    There is a general impression amongst many of us that INTUC is a late starter into the Banking Industry. But in reality it is not so. If one goes through the history of various Bank-Awards, which determined the service conditions of the bank employees then, one would find that the INTUC's affiliated union entry into the banking industry is almost five decades old. Yes, from the Sen Tribunal (1949-50) INTUC unions have entere their appearance and fought for better wages and other service conditions.
Shri.C.L Dudhia, Barrister at Law represented INTUC unions. From that period whether it is Divatia Tribunal (1951) or Sastry Tribunal (1952-53) or Labour Appellate Tribunal (1954), INTUC unions were represented by their Federation viz. Bank Employees Federation. In the year 1959, the INTUC Federation in the name of All INDIA BANK EMPLOYEES FEDERATION (AIBEF) submitted its Charter of Demands on behalf of employees of banks, which was referred to along with the demands submitted by AIBEA and AISBEF (SBI) to Desai Tribunal, constituted by the Government of India on the 21st March 1960. Shri. V. N. Sekhari was then the General Secretary of AIBEF.
  INTUC in the era of Bipartite Negotiations (1966-2000)  
    The Award of the National Industrial Tribunal presided over Mr. Justice Kanthilal T Desai (1962) popularly known, as "Desai Award" was the last in the process of industrial adjudication of Bank-Disputes. Thereafter, came into existence a bipartite system between the Indian Banks Association and the industry level bank unions in resolution of disputes between the managements of banks and the unions. The first settlement which is known as the First Bipartite Settlement covering the wages and other service conditions of the bank employees barring State Bank of India was signed on the 19 October, 1966 between the IBA representing bank managements on the one hand and the All India Banks Association (AIBEA) and the All India Bank Employees Federation (AIBEF) on the other.

It would be of interest for you to know that the AIBEF, the then bank federation of INTUC was represented by Shri.N.K.Bhatt, M.P, Chairman of the Federation along with Shri.N.P.Desai, Vice President, Shri V.N.Sekhri, General Secretary and Shri O.P.Nigam, Joint Secretary. Apart from the usual main features of a wage settlement such as revision of wages and other service conditions, the first Settlement provided for Special Casual Leave eligibility 21 days for Office Bearers and 17 days for Central Committee Members of AIBEA/ AIBEF and 7 days for Office Bearers of their State or Regional Organisations per year for attending meetings and conferences of bank employees. This facility has been subsequently extended by IBA to other organizations as well.

During the Second Bipartite Settlement (12th October, 1970) the INTUC's bank federation has not signed the settlement. I am not able to trace out the reasons therefore. This happens to be a settlement between the IBA and AIBEA only.
  The Third Bipartite Settlement was signed on the 1   August 1979  
    This time there were three parallel negotiations between IBA and AIBEA and NCBE on the one hand and between IBA and Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC), Banking wing of INTUC on the other and third round of negations was between the IBA and the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW). Since there were three parallel negotiations, three identical Settlements were signed between the parties.

The third Settlement was signed by Shri.C.L.Dudia, Bar at Law, President, Shri D. P. Roy, General Secretary, Shri.S. N. Mishra, Secretary and Shri R. P. K. Murugesan, the then Asst. Secretary on behalf of INBEC. It would also be interesting to know that on behalf of NOBW Shri.Subramaniam Swamy, President along with other office bearers signed the Settlement.

From this Settlement the system of revision of basic pay under went a great change from adhoc increase to merger of a part of deamess allowance with the existing basic pay with consequent automatic upward revision in other allowances subject to adjustments by prescribing a cap on them. This time the basic pay was revised by merging dearness allowance at 200 points in the All India Average Working Class Consumer Price Index (General) Base 1960=100 popularly known as Consumer Price Index (CPI). The effective date of the Settlement was from 1Bt September 1978 and the period of the settlement was for four years.
  The Fourth Bipartite Settlement dated 17th September 1984  
    This time there were two parallel negotiations, which IBA held between AIBEA and NCBE on the one hand, and INBEC on the other. The Settlement was signed by Shri.N.K.Bhatt, M.P as its President, Shri.D.P.Roy, General Secretary, Shri.R.P.K.Murugesan, Joint Secretary, along with Shri.D.Ram, Shri.V.S.Malhi, Shri.Ram Rahim Johny and Shri Subhash S Sawant, the other office bearers on behalf of INBEC.This time the revised basic pay was arrived at by merging that portion of dearness allowance at 332 points at CPI. The four-year Settlement was effective from 1-7-1983.  
  The Fifth Bipartite Settlement date 10th April 1989  
    The period between 1986-1988 had been most turbulent in the history of the INTUC's banking wing. INTUC decided to reorganize its Industrial Federations in Banking, Insurance and other Financial Sector, hence dissolved the INBEC and INBOC along with LIC and GIC unions with effect from 16th July, 1987.

On the 2 August, 1987, therefore, the workmen-unions in the banking industry affiliated to INTUC held a meeting at Grand Hotel, Mumbai on the 2 August, 1987 decided to form a new Federation under the name and style of "Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF) under the Chairmanship of Shri. K.Ramamurthy, M.P. The meeting elected Shri.Ramamurthi and Shri R.P.K.Murugesan as the President and General Secretary respectively. I would be failing in my duty if I do not acknowledge on this great occasion, the all out support of Shri Ramanujam ji who was then the President of INTUC and the tireless efforts of Shri Ramamurthi ji, our President then, but for whom the INBEF would not be what it is today.

Consequently, INBEF became a party to the Fifth Bipartite Negotiations and signed the Settlement on the 10 April 1989. As in the past there were parallel negotiations and identical Settlements one with AIBEA and NCBE together and the other with INBEF. This time the new scale of pay was arrived at merging that portion of dearness allowance at 600 points, CPI (1960=100) The five-year Settlement came into force retrospectively with effect from 1s November, 1987 with a provision that fresh Charter of Demands shall be submitted by the Unions six months before the expiry of the Settlement and the negotiations would commence three months before. On behalf of INBEF Shri C.L. Rajarathnam, Vice President, Shri R.P.K.Murugesan, General Secretary, and other office bearers viz. Shri.D.Ram, Shri.Subhash S Sawant, Shri.Dinesh Vegurlekar, Shri. J. G. Verma and Shri.Ram Rahim Johnny signed the Settlement.
  Sixth Bipartite Settlement dated 14th February, 1995  
    For the first time in the banking industry the era of separate negotiations with different Unions has come to an end. Great expectations of the bank employees aroused in them with the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commendations, the Sixth Bipartite Negotiations began. At the same time there was a growing realisation among the bank-unions that only by unity and united efforts on the part of all unions they can realize aspirations of their members. So all the four unions viz AlBEA, NCBE, INBEF and BEFI prepared a Common Charter of Demands that led to common negotiations between the IBA and the industry-level Unions. Consequently a five-year Settlement was signed between the parties on the 14 February 1995 with retrospective effect from 1s November 1992.

The merger of dearness allowance for the purpose of revision in the basic pay was at 1148 points at CPi (1960=100). The five-year Settlement, which was effective from 1st November 1992, was a single document signed by all the four industry-level Unions viz the AlBEA, NCBE, INBEF and BEFl. On behalf of INBEF Shri.R.P.K.Murugesan, General Secretary, Shri Jogen Sarkar, Vice President and Shri.Subhash S Sawant, Dy General Secretary and Shri. R.Kunchithapatham signed the Settlement. Other connected developments in the Sixth Settlement are explained under JSC.
  The Seventh Bipartite Settlement dated 27th March 2000  
    The current Settlement ie the Seventh Bipartite Settlement was a joint Settlement with IBA consequent to joint negotiations between IBA on the one hand and five industry-level Unions viz. AlBEA, NCBE, INBEF, BEFl and NOBW. This five-year Settlement is effective from 1s November 1997 and due to expire as on the 31s October 2002.

The dearness allowance at 1684 points at CPI (1960=100) was merged for the purpose of revision in basic pay. Besides the above Settlements, there were many other Settlements such as Settlement on Computerisation and Mechanisation, Pension, Settlement on revision of wages and other service conditions for B class banks, Residual issues etc. where the Banking wing of INTUC had been a party.

It is not my intention to bring out here the history of Bank-Awards or the salient features of various Bank-Settlements with a historical perspective. My intention is to bring to your notice the various stages of the INTUC's Bank Federation which to day is INBEF. INBEF as the inheritor of this great tradition could legitimately feel proud of. Given the freedom and thrust, I earnestly feel that the day is not far off when INBEF would emerge as the strongest organization in the banking industry.
  VIII Bipartite Negotiations and UFBU  
    One of the Agenda for the UFBU meeting held recently on the 18 March 2002 at Hyderabad was to evolve a common approach to the ensuing VIM Bipartite Negotiations. On behalf of INBEF, the General Secretary participated. Since the process of formulating the Charter of Demands on behalf of INBEF has just commenced, the other constituents of UFBU could give no indications, so also from our side.  
  VIII Bipartite –Demand of Declaration on LFC Re-deployment met with  
    By exercising an option anytime during a block of 2 years or 4 years, as the case may be, an employee can either undertake travel availing of leave fare concession and claim reimbursement upto his entitlement or to encash the facility for the concerned block. The option so exercised shall be irrevocable for the block concerned. On opting to encash the facility, he will be entitled to receive a lump sum equivalent to 75% of notional train fare for the admissible distance (depending on a 2 year or 4 year block) by the entitled class, subject to deduction of admissible tax at source.

Leave Fare Concession for travel to place of domicile is not encashable. An employee opting to encash his LTC shall prefer the claim for himself and his family members only once during the block/term in which such encashment is availed of. The facility of encashment of privilege leave while availing of Leave Fare Concession is also available while encashing the facility of LFC. Providing, however that an employee so encashing the facility of leave fare concession shall proceed on leave for a minimum period of 4 days.
  VIII Bipartite Negotiations in the background of post VRS situation  
    The post VRS situation has witnessed a very alarming shortage of staff at all levels. Extremely tight work at all offices more particularly at branch level has necessitated late sitting without adequate compensation. In many Banks there have been dislocation in the work and the life pattern of the staff. In the absence of fresh recruitments, the existing staff are over burdened with heavy routine. Promotional opportunities in almost all Banks, of late, are declining very fast. The existing employees have to shoulder additional responsibilities for nominal compensation in the name of Special Pay which is disproportionate to such additional responsibilities. These issues will have to be kept in mind while negotiating with the IBA.

Mere percentage increase in the existing Pay Scales with or without merger of a portion of dearness allowance, as have been done in the past, would not be adequate and reasonable under the present circumstances. First of all the present Special Pay paid as Functional Allowance should be rationalised. There are too many of such Allowances! Secondly employees should not be allowed to rot in the same pay scales even after completing 20/25 years of service. This has led to frustration among the employees.

There should not only job satisfaction for them but also a sense of pride in their status. Just an additional payment of Special Assistant Special Pay or Senior Assistant Special Pay would not satisfy them. There should be distinct and separate pay scales for each of these categories. To begin with, there may be 3 or 4 Pay Scales for Clerical Cadre. Similarly there may be at least 2 Pay Scales for Subordinate Cadre also. From one sale to the other, there should be automatic switch over as in the case of Scale I to Scale II in the Officer Cadre. The introduction of multi-scale system is not new to us. It is available in the Officer Cadre with in our own banking industry and they have six scales. Similar multi-scales within the same cadre are available in RBI, LIC, and GIC in the Financial Sector and even in Central/ State Government.

The apprehension expressed by some Unions during the 5 Bipartite Negotiations when INBEF placed such a proposal that the introduction of multi-scales would encourage a split in our Unions and would lead to the formation of cadrewise Unions is unfounded. Even now there is multiplicity of Unions. However, we should not stand in the way of employees' career progression for trade union considerations. Opinions gathered by INBEF from various Union-officials and general bank employees reveal that they would wholeheartedly support any such idea. INBEF would certainly initiate such a move in the joint forums of bankmen but much depends on the response of other constituents of UFBU once common approach formula is adopted.
  IX Bipartite Settlement with Pension Deduction met on agreement 1.6/2.8  
    This has reference to your letter No.HR&IR/MV/76/90/155 dated 21st April 2010 inviting us to sign the 9th Bipartite settlement on 27-04-2010. We would like to draw your attention to the discussions held on 16th April, 2010 in consonance to the modalities signed on 27-11-2009 that interalia stipulates - “30% (Rs.1800.54 crores) by all the employees who are in service of the banks as on the date of the Memorandum of Settlement/Joint Note to be signed between the parties in this regard. This amount will be recovered from the arrears payable on wage revision.”, you had informed us that all employees who are in service shall have to pay 1.6 times of the revised pay as on 01-11-2007.

To our utter surprise just on the eve of the signing agreement for which the entire workforce serving in the industry are eagerly awaiting, you have violated from the understanding reached earlier and now insisting upon us to agree that only the CPF optees shall have to bear the entire burden of 1800.54 crores by contributing 2.8 times of their pay as on 01-11-2007 in lieu of 1.6 times that was agreed upon.

This is a major deviation from the earlier understanding as our organisation could have submitted alternate proposal on 27-11-2009 for the benefit of the employees to which we have been deprived of.

Further since 01-04-2008 quite a large number of employees have retired from service for whom you have decided to recover 56% in addition to the Bank’s contribution that they will be surrendering for opting pension. This will definitely jeopardise the interest of both the serving and retired employees as the very basis of actuarists calculation will undergo a change.

In view of the above we would like to submit that we are signing the 9th Bipartite settlement under protest without prejudice to our rights to maintain the sanctity of the understanding reached earlier.
  Settlement on Disciplinary Action and Procedure therefore  
    Affiliates are aware that the Indian banks Association had been proposing certain amendments/modifications to the Disciplinary Chapter for workmen staff. Consequent to the acceptance of many of the amendments to the IBA's proposals as suggested by 1NBEF, a Memorandum of Settlement has been signed between the IBA and the three workmen unions viz. INBEF, AlBEA and NCBE at Mumbai on the 10th April 2002. The text of Settlement is reproduced in the Annexure.  
  The role of INBEF in the formation of UFBU  
    Shri. Ramanujam ji used to say that the basic message of a trade union is "unity among the workers" and a trade union is a symbol of unity. Union should not therefore, be used for disuniting the workers, much less for workers fighting workers. While he welcomed unity between trade unions of different shades, he strongly felt that the very existence of multiple unions is the negation of trade union philosophy. He, however, spurned "political talk" of unity based on slogan shouting. Although he closed the doors of discussion for many on issues of INTUC after he accepted the Governorship and left INTUC, he was more liberal to me when he used to permit free and frank discussions on all such matters till he breathed his last.

The Joint Struggle Committee of Award Staff Unions, having tasted success in their struggle against the IBA and the Government on the issue of "relativity", realised the need for preserving the unity among them. The policy of the Government of India - issuance of some licenses for establishment of Local Area Banks (one each in Maharastra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) provided yet another occasion that compelled not only award staff unions to retain their unity but also forced the officers' unions to come nearer to the award staff unions forgetting the past. In terms of the RBI stipulation a Local Area Bank could be started with just Rs.5 crores as its paid-up capital and such bank would be fully computerised. This signaled yet another attempt of the government to undermine the public sector banks.
  Formation of UFBU  
    Under this background, on the 14 February, 1997, all the 9 Unions, both workmen and officers, in the banking industry met at Mumbai and decided to fight against the Government's proposal under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) in which process INBEF, as one which believes in the philosophy of trade union unity did play a very active and positive role. What started as a protest against the establishment of Local Area Private Banks, culminated in the inclusion of other issues also:

a) Non-implementation of Pension settlement by private sector Banks
b) Deletion of nefarious "strike clause" that disentitled an employee from pension benefits in the event of his "participation in an illegal strike"
c) Non-payment of revised wages to workmen and officers of RRBs on par with SCBs.
d) Lifting of ban on recruitment and compassionate ground appointments
e) Removal of ceiling on bonus and gratuity payments.

While the agitational programme was on over the above issues the Board of Management of the UCO Bank decided to introduce wage freeze on its employees ostensibly at the instance of the government which evoked spontaneous reaction from the bank unions. However, the Board withdrew its proposal at its next meeting only after an ultimatum issued by the UFBU.

Although the UCO Bank issue was over, the core issue of establishment of Local Area Private Banks remained unresolved. At this juncture, a number of Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) went into liquidation or closed their doors with out being able to meet out their commitments to their depositors. The LJFBU, therefore, held a day's strike on the 4thJuly, 1997 protesting against the government's proposal for establishment of LABs and demanding Govt. control/supervision over the NBFCs. The strike was a great success as is evident from the fact that the government announced, though half-heartedty, some measures to regulate the activities of NBFCs. Regarding the prime issue of establishment of LAPBs, although the licenses already issued were not withdrawn, the matter stood closed since not a single LAPB was opened pursuant to the licenses already issued by the government. Thus, the issues that prompted the formation of UFBU stood vindicated.
  Nationwide strike on the 15th November 2000  
    Although the Government has been giving assurances to bank unions and the Parliamentarian who represented the cause of the bankmen that public sector banks would not be privatised, we witnessed a calculative move on the part of the Government to hand over the control and ownership of the public sector banks to private hands and also to undermine the strength of the bank-unions. Immediately after the signing of the VII Bipartite Settlement the Government, while observing that there was a surplus of 25% in the staff strength of public sector banks, by a communication asked the public sector banks to under take an exercise of manpower planning.

Besides, there were also reports that the Government was planning to reduce the retirement age of bankmen from the current level of 60 to 58. Further, the Government also announced its intention to introduce a Bill in the Winter Session drastically reducing Government Equity in Public Sector Banks from the existing "not less than 51% to 33%" in terms of the recommendations of the Narasimham Committee II. The INBEF and other constituents of UFBU, therefore, met at Calcutta on the 29th October, 2000 and declared a day's nation-wide strike on the 15th November, 2000 preceded by an agitational programme protesting against:

    • Privatisation of public sector banks
    • Introduction of Voluntary Retirement Scheme
    • Reduction in the Age of Retirement from the present 60 to 58.

    On receipt of the strike notice from UFBU, the RLC©, Mumbai initiated conciliation proceedings. During the proceedings, while the other constituents of UFBU struck to their position, through a letter dated 7 November 2000 by Shri K.K. Nair, General Secretary, INBOC addressed to the RLC with a copy endorsed to IBA, the INBOC withdrew from the strike. This sudden and unilateral decision on the part of INBOC, put INBEF in an embarrassing situation. Having been a party to the decision of the UFBU at Calcutta on the 29th October 2000, INBEF could not withdraw its earlier commitments. However, INBEF also had to keep off from the strike programme when a direction to this effect was received from the INTUC by a telegram dated 13th November 2000.

    Accordingly, in deference to the directions received from INTUC, our Affiliates were directed not to participate in the proposed strike.
  Historic Working Committee at Bhopal  
    Under the above circumstances, the Working Committee of INBEF met at Bhopal on the 24 February 2001 under the Chairmanship of Shri Sanjeeva Reddy, President of INBEF and took the following two important decisions viz.

i) INBEF shall maintain its distinct identity while being a constituent of UFBU
ii) INBEF's coordination with UFBU would not be a permanent tie up but would be
issue based.

INBEF, therefore, has not joined in any of UFBU's agitational programmes thereafter including the strike on the 16 April 2002 in deference to the directions of the INTUC.
  Our relationship with INTUC  
    Our relationship with our parent organization, INTUC has been as in the past excellent. Shri. Sanjeeva Reddy despite being the President of INTUC gave us his full co-operation in all our activities. As one who is relinquishing my office of the General Secretary of this great organization, I express my deep sense of gratitude to him for all the support he gave me during my tenure. INBEF was fortunate to have Shri. Gopeshwar ji and Shri Ramamuthy ji as its earlier Presidents during the period covering my tenure. The other office-bearers and staff attached to the INTUC National Head Quarters more particularly, the Secretaries viz, Shri. Chandidas Sinha and Shri.Raju have been readily responding to our needs. Our special thanks to them.  
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