Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a recent tweet, had urged doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, IT professionals and bankers to join the Main Bhi Chowkidar campaign. Not everyone has lapped up the idea.
The All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), the largest union of public sector bank (PSB) officers, in a letter to the Prime Minister, has said the government should not expect the banking fraternity to “join the political campaign of #MainBhiChowkidar” unless issues related to merger of banks, salary revision and staff recruitment, among others, are addressed. A copy to the letter has been sent to the department of financial services (DFS) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). AIBOC comprises about 320,000 officers in PSBs, representing about 85 per cent of the officers in the banks.
“Without addressing the genuine issues of one million bank officers and employees, along with the entire banking fraternity, for which they are aggrieved against the policies of your government, you cannot expect the participation of the banking fraternity to join your political campaign of #MainBhiChowkidar,” the letter said.
One of the issues with bankers is the stern opposition to the merger of Vijaya Bank, Dena Bank and Bank of Baroda. AIBOC has already filed a writ petition against the amalgamation in Delhi High Court.
Another sore point is related to the bipartite settlement for wage negotiations. The IBA had proposed to link salaries of higher level executives (grades six and seven) with the performances of banks, which the officers have opposed.
This is for the first time that the IBA has proposed performance-linked pay for certain grades in PSBs.
The IBA had said remuneration of grades six and seven should be linked to the return on assets (ROA) and operating profit of banks. The employees in grades six and seven include GMs and DGMs — about 2,500 in total.
This apart, PSBs are facing shortage of staff due to austerity measures. In 2018-19, 14 PSBs declared zero vacancy in probationary officers’/management trainee category.
This apart, one of the long-standing demands of the officers’ bank unions has been to introduce pay parity of bank officers with central government officers. The bankers also want the National Pension System (NPS) be withdrawn and replaced with conventional pension system. Other demands include five-day working schedule and publication of the list of wilful defaulters by banks.
AIBOC in its letter also said the officers of the bank were also playing the role of “Aarthik Chowkidars” (financial watchman) and had been instrumental in rolling out key government schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra and demonetisation.
“We, in PSBs, believe that we are part of the government and its extended arm to carry out the wish list of government policies, despite severe constraints and even at the cost of severe personal inconvenience, as we consider ourselves to be the financial army of the nation,” the letter said.