Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wage talks: IBA, Staff Unions agree to disagree on most outstanding issues

Thiruvananthapuram, August 29:  Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and staff unions have failed to find common ground on most of the outstanding issues in a warm-up session ahead of the 11th bipartite settlement talks.

A sub-committee of the IBA negotiating committee had held a round of talks with the unions (AIBEA, NCBE, BEFI, INBEF and NOBW) in Mumbai on August 23.


IBA was represented by Rakesh Sharma, MD & CEO, Canara Bank, who is the Chairman of the sub-committee, while all five unions were represented on the other side.

IBA held out its case for introduction of the ‘cost-to-company’ concept and alluded to the need for fixed-cum-variable pay and performance-related wages to recognise efficiency and performance. It suggested that the new system can be made to apply for future employees with an option extended to existing employees.

But the unions raised apprehensions and submitted that discussions should instead focus on further improvement in efficiency of the workforce as a whole and how to incentivise it.

When it came to the proposal for further rationalisation of special pay posts, the unions expressed their willingness to discuss any concrete proposal in this regard. But they reiterated the demand that the existing duties and powers need to revised with suitable increase in the quantum of special pay.

Minimum qualification

The minimum qualification for recruitment of clerical staff in banks made for an important topic for discussion.

IBA’ case was since the minimum qualification set now is graduation, the additional two increments given under this head should be discontinued. But the unions said this was not acceptable since there was a need to peg back the minimum qualification to 12th standard.

IBA also wanted to amend the disciplinary action provisions to provide for simultaneous criminal proceedings as well as departmental proceedings. The unions rejected it since they apprehended that the proposed amendment would go against the interest of employees.

Premature retirement

The unions did not also agree with the proposal for a provision to provide for premature retirement of employees in public interest any time on completion of 55 years of age or 30 years of service.

They shot down another suggestion that the ensuing 11th bipartite settlement contain a provision for outsourcing as per the Reserve Bank guidelines.

But they agreed on the need for meaningful discussions over grant of stagnation increment uniformly at an interval of two years after reaching the maximum; change in DA scheme based on 2001=100 Index series; improvement in sick leave; grant of maternity leave in combination with other leave; paternity leave to cover child adoption; and LFC entitlement.

Other demands including additional load on wage revision, revised pay scales and allowances, revised DA formula and HRA rates could be discussed at the full negotiating committee since these are common to both employees and officers.

The next round of meeting of the sub-committee will be held on September 6.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Post-demonetisation, 99% of Rs 1,000 notes back with RBI

Mumbai, August 27:  How many worthless Rs 1,000 and 500 notes were hoarders of black money left holding on to after demonetisation because they couldn't reveal they had them? No official answer has been provided for eight months, leaving everybody from the common man to the Supreme Court wondering.

Now, data put out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on its website suggests that at least for the Rs 1,000 notes, almost 99% of currency in circulation came back into the banking system.

The data on notes in circulation shows that at the end of March 2017, there was Rs 8,925 crore worth of Rs 1,000 notes still in 'circulation'.

According to the RBI, "notes in circulation" are all notes held outside Reserve Bank — that is by the public, banks treasuries and so on. Thus, this figure represents the total of all Rs 1,000 notes that were not deposited with the banks after note-bandi starting November 8 last year.

That might seem like a lot of money. But a look at the total value of Rs 1,000 notes in circulation on November 8 puts it in perspective. On that date, 6,858 million Rs 1,000 notes were in circulation, according to a statement made by Santosh Kumar Gangwar, minister of state for finance, in the Lok Sabha on February 3 this year. These would, thus, have been worth Rs 6.86 lakh crore.

Seen against this huge figure, Rs 8,925 crore constitutes a mere 1.3%. In other words, if these figures are right, 98.7% of all 1,000 rupee notes came back to RBI after demonetisation, and a mere 1.3% were not returned.

Attempts to get RBI's response to queries regarding this on Friday could not elicit any response.

A similar calculation cannot be done for Rs 500 notes because, unlike the Rs 1,000 notes where there were no new ones, the figure for Rs 500 notes in circulation on March 31, 2017 would mostly be for new notes, and the data does not give us a break-up of old and new notes.

However, Surajit Mazumdar, professor of economics at JNU who analysed this data, pointed out to TOI, "If 99% of the Rs 1,000 notes were returned, there is no reason to think that Rs 500 notes would be different in any significant way.

In other words, almost all the old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes appear to have been officially returned. Negligible 'black money' has been unearthed."

Mazumdar added that the total value of demonetised currency on November 8, 2016 was Rs 15.4 lakh crore. Of this, Rs 1,000 notes made up about 44% and Rs 500- notes 56%.

The government and RBI have not divulged the amount of returned notes till now. In June this year, the government said that RBI was still counting the returned money and that it may take a longer time.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bank Unions Likely To Meet Narendra Modi in September to Put Forward Their Demands

The nationwide strike hit around 42,000 branches of 22 public sector banks including State Bank Of India and IDBI, 18 old generation banks, eight foreign banks and 56 Regional Rural Banks. Bnkers will now join a march to Parliament on September 15, followed by another two days’ strike in late October-early November

New Delhi, August 23: The nationwide bank strike which was called by the United Forum of Banking Unions (UFBU) saw major participation from across the nation. Banking operations on Tuesday were disrupted as public sector bank employees protested against the government’s proposed consolidation move among other demands.

Nearly 10 lakh employees and officers of public sector banks across 10,300 branches in the country had participated in the nationwide strike. The Bank Unions have now planned to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi so that they can put forth their demands and apprise the Prime Minister of the current situation.

C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA (All India Banks’ Employees Association) was quoted by Moneycontrol saying, “We were happy to see more young officers also participate in the protest and that helped us put forth the message. The present political culture has ignored the bank unions’ views but there will be a long term confrontation on the same.

We plan to meet the Prime Minister Modi post the September 15 morcha to put forth our points.”

On Tuesday, many states in India came to a standstill as banking transactions were severely hit. The protest across the nation affected cheque-clearing activity, financial, cash transactions and other routine daily banking services. ATMs that were operational ran out of cash as there were no replenishments. Reports stated that private lenders like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank functioned normally.

States like Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu felt the heat of the protest as no transactions took place due to the strike. About 55,000 bankers joined the strike from Tamil Nadu, over 42,000 bank employees and officers were from Maharashtra while several thousand bank employees staged a rally at Azad Maidan in Mumbai which was addressed by leaders of UFBU and its nine affiliated unions.

AIBEA leader Vishwas Utagi informed that the nationwide strike hit around 42,000 branches of 22 public sector banks including the monolithic State Bank Of India and IDBI, 18 old generation banks, eight foreign banks and 56 Regional Rural Banks in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

The strike comes after the talks between UFBU on one side and Indian Banks’ Association, Chief Labour Commissioner and Department of Financial Services (DFS) failed on Friday. As per PTI reports, UFBU Convenor Devidas Tuljapurkar said the bank staffers will now join a march to Parliament on September 15, followed by another two days’ strike in late October-early November.

The UFBU had met on June 28 decided to launch an agitation on August 22 against reforms, mergers and our other issues after talks with the government on proposed reforms failed.

According to the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), when the country needs more banking services, the government is talking about consolidation, amalgamation, and merger of Banks.

Strike paralyses banking operations

Mumbai, August 22:  Banking operations in public sector banks, old generation private sector banks and regional rural banks across the country were hit on Tuesday as about 10 lakh employees went on a one-day strike to oppose, among others, amalgamation among public sector banks and their privatisation, and to demand tough measures against large loan defaulters.
The United Forum of Bank Unions, the umbrella union of trade unions, plans to intensify its agitation by calling for a two-day strike either in October or November if its concerns are not addressed, according to union representatives.
With the aforementioned banks accounting for about 75 per cent of the total banking business in the country, cheque-clearing operations were severely impacted. Besides, cash transactions could not be carried out as usual and government treasury transactions could not be put through as branches were closed down.
C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association, said in most of the places, clearing operations, particularly outward clearing, were badly affected. Normally, in the three clearing grids in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, on an average, about 40 lakh cheques and instruments worth about Rs. 20,000 crore are transacted per day.
“The government’s denial of adequate capital to public sector banks is creating conditions for privatisation. This would mean privatising the Rs. 80 lakh crore of common people’s money available in our banks. This is dangerous for the country and our people. Privatisation of banks would also result in denial of loans to priority sectors like agriculture, rural development, education, etc.,” he said.
Similarly, at a time when the country needs more banking services, the government is talking of consolidation, amalgamation and merger of banks, the trade union leader said, and added that bank mergers would result in closure of bank branches as is happening in SBI now after the merger of associate banks.
Loan defaulters
Given that the banking industry is reeling under bad loans, S Nagarajan, General Secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Association, emphasised that the industry has to be saved from the clutches of loan defaulters. Sanjay Manjrekar, General Secretary, Syndicate Bank Officers Association, said instead of hauling the large loan defaulters over the coals, the common depositor is being unfairly penalised by banks in the form of cuts in deposit rates and higher charges. The government should allow banks to take criminal action against the defaulters.
Pointing out that there are about 7,000 wilful defaulters, Venkatachalam felt that they should be termed as criminal offenders and tough criminal action taken. “But the government is suggesting litigation route/insolvency cases by which money due to the banks will not be recovered, rather there would be huge sacrifices and write-offs. “In the last five years, from 2013 to 2017, banks have written off nearly Rs. 2.50 lakh crore of loans due from these defaulters. This is diversion of people’s money to benefit the rich people,” he said.
Chennai, August 22: Ten lakhs bank employees and officers all over the country working in more than a lakh of branches of public sector, private sector and regional rural banks struck work today opposing to privatise PSBs, merger and consolidation of PSBs, writing off corporate NPAs, FRDI (Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance) Bill, Banks Board Bureau, passing on the burden of corporate NPAs on bank customers by hiking service charges, increasing service charges in the name of GST and demanding declaration of wilful default of Bank loans as criminal offence, implementation of recommendations of Parliamentary Committee on recovery of NPAs, ensuring accountability of Top Management/ Executives for bad loans and stringent measures to recover bad loans and adequate recruitment in all cadres, under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella organisation of 9  workmen and officers unions.
The bilateral discussions held by Indian Banks Association on 16th August at Mumbai and the Tripartite conciliation meeting held on 18th August at New Delhi convened by Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) yielded no result as the Government and the Bank Managements were adamant and not ready to resolve any of the issues raised by the Unions and Associations.
There is a concerted attempt on the part of Government of India to write off lakhs of crores of rupees to the corporate loan defaulters using some method or the other and the same is cited as inefficiency of public sector banks and these PSBs are attempted to be either privatized or even liquidated through executive orders or enactments in the parliament. If the PSBs are privatised, it will ruin the fundamentals of the economy and have a cascading effect on the lives of common man who entirely depend on PSBs to improve their standard of living and to safe guard their hard earned small savings. That is why the Bank employees and officers are resolutely opposing the machinations of the Government, Reserve Bank and the top bankers to weaken the public sector banks.
Today lakhs bank employees and officers participated in the demonstrative programs held in more than 600 centres. In Tamilnadu demonstrations were held in more than 50 centres including  Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Vellore, Kanchipuram and Puducherry.
In Chennai more than 3,000 bank employees and officers took part in demonstration held near Collector office, North Beach road. The demonstration was chaired by Thomas Franco convener UFBU Tamilnadu. C H Venkatachalam, S M Selvaraj, R Sekaran, M A Srinivasan, K Krishnan and Manish Kumar spoke on the occasion.
In Tamilnadu more than 7,000 branches of commercial and Regional Rural banks remained closed and about 70,000 employees and officers participated in the strike. Around 12 lakhs instruments amounting to Rupees 7,300 crores remained un-cleared. We seek the support of the public to this patriotic struggle to protect the public sector banks.
C P Krishnan General Secretary Bank Employees Federation of India said: if the Government still remains adamant, there is no option for the UFBU but to intensify the struggles

SBI opens it second International sbiINTOUCH Digital Banking Outlet in Mauritius

Mauritius, August 21: Buoyed by the success of opening more than 250 plus sbiINTOUCH Digital Banking Branches across India, SBI is now sharing the flavour of its success to its foreign subsidiaries.

While it launched one such outlet in Nepal last month, it opened one more such outlet in Mauritius.

The Digital Banking outlet was inaugurated by Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman, State Bank of India along with Rameswurlall Basant Roi, Governor of Bank of Mauritius and Abhay Thakur, High Commissioner of India to Mauritius.

The Bank also inaugurated its upgrade Internet Banking Platform- Finacle e-Banking Application (FEBA) in order to provide improved functionalities and  security features for the Internet Banking product.  A digital-wall was also inaugurated which provides an interactive, touch screen experience to the customers to know more about the Products and services of the Bank.

Speaking on the side-lines of the event, Bhattacharya informed the press-persons that basically the Digital Banking Outlet was aimed at the digital generation which is more comfortable with digital products.  She also said that the Outlet gives a lot of information and handholds  the customer to work on his own at the outlet with a little help from the staff at the Branch.

She also said that the Bank has also started a process of remittance to India through ATM.  SBI (Mauritius) Ltd has 13 retail branches and one integrated Global Business Branch together with 20 ATMs across the country.

The event was attended by other top executives of State Bank of India like B Sriram, MD (Corporate Banking Group), Praveen Gupta, MD (Compliance and Risk), Mr.Dinesh Kumar Khara, MD (Associates & Subsidiaries), Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, DMD & CIO, Siddhartha Sengupta, DMD (International Banking Group) and Independent Directors, M Cheeroo and G Gopee.

Monday, August 21, 2017

No Assurance from Government on Charter of Demands : Bank Unions Strike on August 22

Bank Unions to go ahead with
All India Strike on August 22

‘No Assurance from Government on Charter of Demands’

Chennai, August 21: Bank unions would go ahead with their all India strike on August 22 as talks with the Central government have failed. The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) had given the call for the strike on August 22 pressing for various demands including not to privatise public sector banks and merge some of them.

“In response to the strike notice, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) called the UFBU for discussions on August 16 to explore the possibility of averting the strike. During the meeting, the IBA could not commit to resolve any of the demands; it just stated that all these are policy issues of the government but appealed to the unions to withdraw the strike,” UFBU said in a statement. A.K. Nayak, Chief Labour Commissioner of Ministry of Labour Ministry, Government of India, too had a meeting with both the IBA and the UFBU.

During this meeting, UFBU representatives urged the IBA and the Centre to make assurance not to pursue the reform policies and resolve the demands amicably. Since no such assurance was given, the UFBU said it has decided to go ahead with the strike call.

Accordingly, as announced, nearly 10 lakh employees and officers of various banks all over the country would observe the strike, the UFBU said in the statement. “The strike is likely to affect banking services but we regret that the Centre and the IBA were not eager to resolve the issues; this has forced the unions to go ahead with the strike,” it added.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

SBI collects Rs 235 crore in minimum balance fine in June quarter: RTI

Mumbai, August 18 (PTI): State Bank of India (SBI) has realised Rs 235.06 crore as penalty from 388.74 lakh accounts for not maintaining monthly average balance in the first quarter of the current fiscal, an RTI query has revealed.

"An amount of Rs 235.06 crore has been realised from our 388.74 lakh accounts which did not maintain monthly average balance in the first quarter ended June 30," SBI said in its reply to an application filed by Neemuch-based RTI activist Chandrashekhar Gaud.

This information was furnished by a Mumbai-based Deputy General Manager rank officer of the bank's operations department, he said.

However, the country's top bank has not revealed the categories of accounts on which the fine has been levied for non-compliance with its minimum balance requirements, the activist said.

Gaud appealed to the state-run lender to review its policy of levying penalty for non-compliance with its minimum balance requirements in the interest of the poor account holders.

New Rs. 50 notes in your wallets soon

Mumbai, August 18:  The Reserve Bank of India on Friday said it will shortly issue Rs. 50 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series. The base colour of the note is fluorescent blue.

In November 2016, the RBI had introduced new banknotes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 denominations with base colours of stone grey and magenta, respectively.

The new Rs. 50 banknote has a motif of Hampi with a chariot, depicting the country’s cultural heritage, and the Swachh Bharat logo with slogan on the reverse.

All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs. 50 issued by the Reserve Bank in the earlier series will continue to be legal tender, the central bank said in a statement.

During the demonetisation period (November 9, 2016 to December 30, 2016), currency notes of denominations Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 (specified bank notes or SBNs), valued at Rs. 15.4 lakh crore and constituting 86.9 per cent of the value of total notes in circulation, were sucked out of the economy.

According to an RBI study, ‘excess’ bank deposit growth (year-on-year) following demonetisation was in the range of 3.0-4.7 percentage points. In nominal terms, these estimates imply excess deposits that accrued to the banking system due to demonetisation to be in the range of Rs. 2.8-4.3 lakh crore.

The study said a micro-level analysis of unusual growth in cash deposits in specific types of accounts, which are usually marked by low level of activity, also support the findings. Such gains in terms of a shift towards bank deposits, if durable, could have beneficial impact in the form of financialisation of savings.

Bank strike on August 22: Ten lakh bankers to protest against banking reforms

Talks between the United Forum of Bank Unions, and the Indian Banks’ Association, chief labour commissioner and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) failed.

Chennai, August 18 (IANS): Around 10 lakh bankers will go on strike on August 22 as talks between the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on one side and Indian Banks’ Association, chief labour commissioner and the Department of Financial Services (DFS) failed on Friday, said a union leader.

The forum is an umbrella body of nine unions in the Indian banking sector. The UFBU has given notice of a nationwide strike on August 22 to protest against reforms in the banking sector and other issues.

“The officials from IBA and DFS said there is no merger of government-owned banks or privatisation in the immediate future and urged us to withdraw our strike call. The talks were not satisfactory as there was nothing concrete coming from their side,” D Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, general secretary of the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) told IANS after the meeting.

He said that around 10 lakh bankers working in around 1,32,000 branches would be on strike on August 22.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bank strike on Aug 22 to protest against proposed reforms

Kolkata, August 17: United Forum of Banking Unions (UFBU), the umbrella body of trade unions in the banking sector, has called a nation-wide strike on August 22 to protest against the reforms proposed by the Centre.

West Bengal convenor of UFBU, Siddhartha Khan said that the government is ushering in privatisation and consolidation in the Indian banking sector in the garb of reforms.

He said that the Bank Board Bureau had been formed to bring all the public sector banks (PSBs) under a banking investment company and get the government's share in PSBs below 50 per cent.

Rise in the gross NPAs of all the PSBs to Rs 6.83 lakh crore was also a major cause for concern and the banking system's financial health was suffering due to provisioning.

"The banks are giving very little stress on recovery of bad loans and taking recourse to either write-offs or provisioning," he told reporters on Thursday.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bank employees to go ahead with August 22 nationwide strike

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on Wednesday declared that their nationwide strike call for August 22 stands as the talks with the Indian Banks` Association (IBA) in Mumbai have failed.

Chennai, August 16 (IANS): The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on Wednesday declared that their nationwide strike call for August 22 stands as the talks with the Indian Banks` Association (IBA) in Mumbai have failed.

The Forum is an umbrella body of nine unions in the Indian banking sector. The UFBU has given notice of a nationwide strike on August 22 to protest against reforms in the banking sector and other issues.

"Since nothing positive emerged (at the talks) on the issues raised by us, our call for strike on August 22 stands," C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees` Association (AIBEA), told IANS.

"The IBA requested to withdraw strike without any concrete solution to the demands. Hence the strike call stands," D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary of the All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC) said.

The Chief Labour Commissioner has called the Forum for a conciliatory meeting in New Delhi on August 18.

Monday, August 14, 2017

SBI cuts staff strength, looks to redeploy 10,000

MUMBAI: State Bank of IndiaBSE -0.93 % (SBI) has reduced its staff headcount by 6,622 in the first quarter of FY18 to 2.73 lakh from 2.80 lakh at the beginning of the quarter due to retirements and a voluntary retirement scheme. The bank now plans to redeploy over 10,000 employees following the merger of its associate banks and due to digitisation. 

Consolidation of associate banks and a shift to digital channels for banking have set in motion a job restructuring process in one of th ..