IBA, United Forum of Bank Unions to meet on Saturday to close wage pact

The IBA has so far refused to entertain UBFU’s demand for a 20 per cent wage hike
The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and United Forum of Bank Unions (UBFU) will meet on Saturday to close the eleventh bipartite settlement. Among the key discussion points are an 18-20 per cent raise in wages and a five-day work week.

The tenth settlement elapsed in October 2017, and a deal was reached with IBA that a new pact will be effective from November 2017. The finance ministry, too, had instructed that negotiations begin six months earlier from the date of expiry of the last settlement.

Pressure is mounting on the both the IBA and UBFU as the three-day bank strike called from March 11 will see banks remain shut for six days in that week —March 10 is a holiday on account of Holi, and March 15 is a second Saturday. Bank unions have also threatened an indefinite strike from April if the wage pact is not closed.

“The meeting of UFBU held at Mumbai on (February) 13… came to the unanimous and inescapable conclusion that intensified (agitation has) to be resorted to press our demands for reasonable resolution and satisfactory settlement,” said a bank union office-bearer.

The talks come just ahead of the mergers of four sets of state-run banks, effective from April 1. The mergers are of Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India; Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank; Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank; and Indian Bank and Allahabad Bank.

“Wage issues will have a bearing on the merging banks in a big way. So, we want this to be settled ahead of fiscal year end,” said a bank official. Mergers in the recent past — be it the State Bank of India’s merger of its five associate banks with itself, or that of Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank — had come well within the indicated time frame for hammering out the wage settlement.

The IBA has so far refused to entertain UBFU’s demand for a 20 per cent wage hike, and has insisted that it will be 10 per cent at best, refusing even the 15 per cent that the unions had asked for in the earlier round of talks.

UBFU’s revised demand was on the grounds that the gap between what bank employees earn when compared to those in the government’s equivalent grade has widened. And even after a 20 per cent pay hike, this difference will stand reduced only at the beginning of the scale, but will still be at about half of the same at the end of it.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel