The bank employee community is divided over discrimination between pension optees and PF optees, claim industry sources. One section is unhappy with the wage package accepted by the United Forum of Banks’ Unions
The ninth bi-partite wage settlement, which was recently concluded between the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) and the United Forum of Banks' Unions (UFBU), has not gone down well with a section of the bank employees and officers, say sources within the industry. Apparently, there is still a lot of resentment amongst the employees for a variety of reasons.
Provident fund (PF) optees have raised a hue and cry about the injustice meted out to them with regard to the second pension option to bank employees. Under the wage settlement, one more pension option was made available to 2.66 lakh bank employees and officers who had not availed pension earlier. Sources within the industry indicate that the entire burden of Rs1,800 crore for availing this second option is to be shared only by the PF optees by contributing 2.8 times of November 2007 pay against 1.6 times agreed earlier. In sharp contrast, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on 27 November 2009 and on 27 April 2010, had indicated that the pension cost will be shared by all the employees. However, the final wage settlement signed by the UFBU has left the PF optees high and dry, causing a lot of resentment and anguish.
This has even forced the PF optees to come together and create a forum in the name and style of "United Forum of Provident Fund Optees, Mumbai". The forum will be holding its first convention at Rama Watumall Auditorium of KC College, Churchgate (south Mumbai) on 12 June 2010, Saturday at 2.30 PM to demand pension on the same lines as was made available to earlier optees or to honour the earlier MoU.
Chairman of the UFPFO, Mumbai, Akshar Parasnis and convener of the UFPFO, Mumbai, JS Rao, have called the meeting and appealed to all bank employees to join the forum to fight against this discrimination between pension optees and PF optees.
As such, the bank employee community appears divided between pension optees who had earlier opted for pension merely by surrendering the management's contribution of provident fund with interest and the other being the provident fund optees who did not avail the pension option during 1993-95. There appears to be infighting among different bank employees' unions on this issue as well.
The Indian National Bank Employees' Federation (INBEF) on its part is claiming that this burden on PF optees is the work of certain vested interests from within the unions. These entities apparently obtained a legal opinion on the sharing of pension cost for facilitating second pension option to PF optees. The said legal opinion submitted to IBA was brought at the final stage of signing the wage agreement. It stated that it was illegal to recover the pension cost from the arrears payable to pension optees as they had already availed the pension and this second option is only for the PF optees. The INBEF claims this was part of a carefully planned and directed move by one or two employee unions.
When Moneylife contacted Vishwas Utagi, secretary of the All India Bank Employees' Federation (AIBEF), he flatly denied any such discord in the community. "There is no such confusion in the industry regarding the settlement. Everybody is satisfied with it and employees will be getting the arrears soon. Those who raised an objection earlier have also signed the agreement. So there is no question of any dissatisfaction."
Shekhar Kadam, secretary of the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), Maharashtra confirmed that there were some murmurs initially, but most unions have accepted the settlement. "Barring one or two unions, others have agreed completely with the wage settlement. Even some of our members had some reservations initially, but we have convinced them. We are happy with the pension option."
Among the other things that have irked the bank employees is the 'meagre' hike of 17.5% announced in the revised wage settlement. This apparently includes the 6.25% of pension cost of Rs1,800 crore on the employees. They are arguing that bank employees and officers continue to be among the lowest-paid government staffers when compared to other PSUs and employees covered under the Sixth Pay Commission.
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