TODAY -

Has Govt overlooked Bipartite Settlement ?

Kamal Baruah *



Finance Minister rose to present the Union Budget 2020-21. 30 Lakh Crore Expenditure Budget is tabled in the parliament for India’s aspiration towards economic development for its caring society.

The government has committed various schemes for improvement in the quality of life. The budget has estimated nominal growth of GDP at 10% while the said macroeconomic indicator kept falling from 8.2% (16-17) to 7.2% (17-18), 6.8% (18-19), 5% (19-20).

India is still the 5th largest economy in the world in terms of GDP at current US $ Trillion after US, China, Japan and Germany. It has initiated structural reforms in GST to abolish multiple taxes and bring uniformity.

But our economy slows down despite those tracking progress in numbers. Incidentally there was nation-wide 2 days strike on the budget day for want of pay revision by 12 Lakh Public Sector Bank (PSB) employees. Has the government overlooked them as human and compassionate?

On the other hand New Delhi is in the process of implementing one nation one pay day and is looking at uniform minimum wage across sectors which will safeguard better livelihood of workers. Bank employees are often accountable for small mistakes.

Should there be incentive for high risk job? Every Cashier in a bank faces lose out cash at the counter often due to cash handling mistakes. Shouldn’t they be protected?

Indian Banks’ Association is entrusted under the Chief Labour Commissioner for Bipartite wage settlement that takes place every five years. The 11th Bipartite for which negotiation is currently on that is due from November 1, 2017. Performance-Linked Incentives (PLI) or variable pay is set to become the buzzword for PSB employees.

It is well-accepted across industries including private banks, but not in public sector banks. The series of talks have continuously been failed and there is strike happening. They go to road and even loss salary for a strike to protect economic safeguard. From time to time Govt cautioned employees to not to go flash strike for being in the public utility sector.

The banking sector has made it possible for India’s unique leadership in digital revolution globally. The seamless delivery to citizens electronically by the service industry helps to improve infrastructure for social security schemes. From Demonitization to PMJDY banks make the country digitally empowered for inclusive growth.

Information Technology and Electronic Fund Transfer have emerged as the twin pillars of modern banking development. Besides Payment Banks for alternative channel after Internet and Mobile Banking, banks have been the primary source of funding for the infrastructure sector.

The Global Financial Crisis 2007-08 has hit our country too but banking in India has displayed the ability to recover from recession faster than US or any other developed country. Does India surely move ahead with its vision to become an economic powerhouse in the next decade?

Despite all good works are done, the government kept a long silence over the issues of wage revision. The profit by PSBs is shared to RBI/Government. At the same time banks are responsible if incur loss. Nirav Modi scripted largest bank scam while Vijay Mallya used Kingfisher Airlines to launder siphoning of funds.

The top thirty defaulters’ accounts are for one-third of gross NPAs worth Rs 9.49 lakh crore. Banks have to open Zero Balance Account as per government guidelines of Financial Inclusion despite there are a cost for maintenance. To boost business, Govt directs banks for loans without security.

Funds are given to industry as country needs to prosper at government direction but there is NPA. Should defaulters name be public and declare loan defaulters criminal for wasting public money? RBI/Government must compel NPA defaulters to return money/asset. Now the amalgamations of PSBs (OBC, PNB and UBI), (Allahabad and Indian) and (BoB, Vijaya and Dena) are in the process. There must have provisions to safeguard the rights of workers.

So far IBA has offered 12.25% wage hike as adequate but United Forum of Bank Unions, the umbrella organisation of nine leading bank associations did not agree. Their demand is for 20% wage hike on Pay Slip Component. The unions are also demanding merger of Special Allowance with Basic Pay, scrapping of NPS, updating of pension, implementation of family pension and allocation of staff welfare fund based on operating profit.

IBA tactfully added the Performance Linked Incentive (2.74%) and five days Additional Encashment of Leave (1.37%) with Payslip Component (12.25%) totalling 16.36% (12.25%+1.37%+2.74%). Few banks already offer rewards and incentives for individual employees based on their performance on certain business parameters. But the new structure would be based on performance of banks.

When the world is moving towards 4-day workweek, Indian bankers are still fighting for 5 day banking where IBA denied it for the sack of tough times of economy. On the other hand RBI, DFS, CVC, NCLT, Ministry and other Central/State Dept are working in 5 day week.

Are they not serious for country’s economy slowdown? Neighbouring Bangladesh follows five day working. Many organizations in Europe are cutting work weeks though not wages from 36 hours (5 days) to 28 hours (4 days) to reduce burnout and make workers happier, productive and committed to employers.

France implemented a reduction of working hours (less than 35 hours) almost 20 years ago to create better work-life balance for the nation. Leading today’s trend is the Netherlands, where the average weekly working time is about 29 hours, the lowest of any industrialized nation.

Can India’s think tanks be truly effective? Should bankers go for regulated working hours?


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 10, 2020.



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