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.

‘Cost-to-company’

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.

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