Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Politicaly Motivated Bank Strike

Bank staff are on Strike on 2nd September 2015 on the call given by various trade unions  in favour of following demands

   The National Convention adopted a declaration listing out the following demands.
            i]          Control the Price Rise
            ii]         Contain the unemployment
            iii]        Strict implementation of Labour Laws
            iv]        Halt the mass scale contractualisation
            v]         Ensure minimum wage of not less than Rs.15000/-
            vi]        Extend Universal social security benefits
            vii]       Pension for all including unorganised workers
            viii]      Compulsory registration of TUs within 45 days
            ix]        Immediate ratification of ILO convention 87 and 98
            x]         Halting the the FDI in Defence /Railways / Insurance
            xi]        Attempts to disinvest the Government equity in Public Sector Banks
                        xii]       Attack on agriculturists through Land acquisition bill promulgamated
through ordinance…… etc.,
My Observations on strike is as follows. I have tried to touch all major points of demand raised by these leaders in support of bank strike on 2nd September .
Strike called by trade union leaders of bank on 2nd of September 22015 in support with other trade unions of the country is in my view totally unwarranted, politically motivated and for serving the ego of only a few of leaders associated with bank staffs. It took months and years for these leaders to opt for strike in support of wage hike but it took no time for them to decide to join strike with other trade union leaders .
When it was a matter of wage hike, none of political entities came forward to support and strengthen bank strike when they were striving hard to get their demand for wage hike accepted by central government. It took 30 months to get miserable hike of 15 % in pays and allowances of bank staff  and it took further six months for notifying holidays on 2nd and 4th Saturday agreed upon by Trade Unions And IBA in March 2015.
  Now I try to enlighten usefulness of each demand one by one to substantiate my conclusive opinion going against happening of strike on 2nd of September .

First demand put by Leaders supporting strike on 2nd September 2015 is price rise. It may be noted here that price rise is a regular phenomenon in a developing country like India. However it was at its peak during UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. Prices of goods started falling After  Modi came to power. Data on Inflation released by GOI from time to time will substantiate this truth.

However price may further be controlled by strike by attacking on hoarders and blackmarketeers. State Government can take punitive steps against such hoarders who artificially rise price. But where the prices rise is genuine, we have to raise supply by producing more and more of goods. For that leaders should attack on unwarranted exports of some goods which is cause of price rise. Instead of making price rise only a point to increase number in demand, they should suggest the ways and means to tackle the issue of price rise.
   Problem of unemployment is as old as freedom of our country. It peaked after GOI accepted the policy of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation in the year 1991. Since then position of public sector undertaking is going from bad to worse. Retrenchment or cut in employment is on rise since 1991. Computerisation in all offices and PSUs added fuel to fire. All governments of last seven decades promised to reduce unemployment , but they all failed. They stopped registration of unemployed youth in employment exchanges . They promised for quota for various castes and communities but they did not create employment opportunities. There are no chairs to sit on , but politicians are talking of reservations for various castes and groups who will sit on chair if chairs are in any office.

Public sector have almost closed the door for employment and it is only private sector which has generated few opportunities for employment . But unfortunately selfish leaders are opposing it too.
Since 1991 , vacancies in government offices are almost negligible as compared to what it used to be before 1991. Recruitment in PSUs , banks and government offices do not match even with the number of people retired during this period i.e. from 2001 to 2015. Number of staff in public sector banks is almost same what it was five to ten  years ago despite rapid expansion of branch network . Number of branches have doubled and total business have grown manifold, but number of bank staff has remained almost stagnant. Staff in almost all branches and all offices have to sit late to complete task assigned to them or simply to keep boss in good stream.
 Trade union talk of Labour laws.   All branches of almost all banks work overnight and even on Sundays and holidays. Almost all departments of government work till late night. Shops and factories work late hours, private banks and private corporates force their staff to work  not less than 12 hours a day. What labour offices are doing in the country for last so many years. Which labour law  has been put in force during last one decade and more.

Almost all banks are resorting to outsourcing and contract labours. What these leaders have been doing all the time during last ten years and more. Are they in deep slumber or in long hibernation. Left parties which are considered as well wisher of working class are silent spectator of exploitation of working class for years and decades. Bank officers are forced to commit suicide , but leaders are almost silent on why officers are to face huge burden of workload?

What is the fun of setting Rs.15000 as minimum wage if a worker has to work double the normal working hours they are supposed to work as per exiting labour laws. What labour offices are doing and what these leaders are doing. Majority of labour offices have gone defunct slowly and gradually. Even shops and Malls are open on all 7 days of the week and  for more than 12 hours a day. In seventies and eighties , there used to frequent raids on factories and shops to stop exploitation of working class. Gradually these labour exploitation protecting offices have stopped their function and keep them confined to their offices and draw salary by doing no job at all.

Leaders should explain what they mean for bank staff when they talk of universal social security. Are they concerned for old age pension or they advocate free education or free drinking water and electricity? 

Bank staff use to get pension at least to the extent of half of their last salary , which ranges from Rs.15000 to Rs.45000 per month. Central government employees and armed forces are getting even more. Other sections of working class never dream of pension . What trade union leaders were doing till now. Old age pension which is paid by GOI or state government is only few  hundreds of rupees. Why advocates of social security were silent all these days?

Similarly pension to staff working in unorganised sector and modern era private companies , IT sector companies is almost negligible or not at all. When pensioners are not happy in organised sector, why do these leaders worry for private sector workers. Are they more concerned to disturb present government on some issue or the other ?

Registration of trade unions is not an issue at all. Majority of trade Unions are already registered. And if some trade unions are yet to be registered, thy can not be registered . I think unregistered trade union in organised sector represent hardly one percent of total workforce. There is practically no Trade Union in private companies of modern era. As such question of registration of trade union does not arise at all.

Trade Union leaders should make it clear what are implications of non-ratification of ILO convention 87 and 98. They should say why they support FDI in other sectors and why not in railways, insurance and defence. Bank staff are in general not aware of FDI and if they are aware , why these leaders were silent since 1991 when our government in principle accepted the policy of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation. FDI in some form or the other has been raised by each Government since 1991. Even left parties were in power in coalition with Congress Party n UPA I and were fully in power in States like West Bengal for decades.

Trade union leaders are opposing so called disinvestment in banks. Perhaps they are not aware that due to increasing burden of provisions for bad debts , GOI is not disinvesting but investing by infusing more and more capital to banks suffering from shortage in Capital Adequacy Ratio fixed to comply International norms. Shareholdings of  GOI in many banks have gone up and it will continue to go up if rise in bad debts is allowed to go up and up unabated. Fundamental cause of sickness has now become poor quality of bank assets which majority of top trade union leaders could not protect because they too work in nexus with corrupt bank officials to serve various purposes . If escalation in bad debts is not stopped soon, disaster is to happen on PS banks, none can stop it.

Last but not the least, leaders are on strike to lodge protest against Land Acquisition Bill proposed by Modi Government. They should suggest how to create employment opportunities. They should focus why Public sector undertakings have failed to perform as per expectation and why they have stopped creating employment opportunities. They should say why they did not insist for preferred financing to farmers . Why did they not stop banks which financed hundreds ad thousands of crores of rupees to high value projects and why they are unable to recover dues from them.

Trade Union Leaders of banks did not stop top officials of banks who concealed bad loans for years and decades and finally wrote off these loans or  sacrificing huge amount of principals and interest in compromise settlement with wilful defaulters just to save corrupt bank officials or to help political masters. They should say why these big loans are now bad for recovery, who are responsible for it and how many of top officials have been punished for their ill-motivated sanctions.
Are they acting as partner of top officials in causing loss to the bank? 
 Are they shedding Crocodile Tears when Government is talking of Land Acquisition .

After all , how growth will take place , how employment opportunities will  be created and how infrastructure will grow if land is not acquired. Are they also supporter of Consent Clause? 

If yes , they should say whey Parliamentarians who are supposed to be literate and people's representative do not discuss and debate these vital issues in Parliament. and why do they disturb the functioning on Parliament on non-issues.
Is there consensus on happening of strike in bank?
Have trade union leaders obtained consent of all staff or even one fourth 25% of bank staff before opting for strike on 2nd of September 2015?

When consent cannot be arrived at among literate class of bankers, how these union leaders dream of consensus or consent among farmers is possible before acquisition of land? When Parliament and State Assemblies cannot arrive at consensus on any bill due to political reasons or any other reason, how one can dream of consensus of farmers of different interest and different caste before any portion of land is acquired even for any national objective.

Ashok Kumar Manocha writes on Facebook on the issue related to strike on 2nd of September 2015

The Last post of an anguished bank employee-

 Dear Friends this is my last post on the social media on banking issues Hereinafter I will not post anything on issues concerning bank employees because I have come to the conclusion that come what may, bank employees lack the guts and gumption to understand the things and change their course. They will go on the same track. Will be beaten at every step b...ut will not introspect...I feel very much anguished and hurt today. Of course I do not use abusive language against anyone but at times I can be direct and hard hitting.

 Despite so much discussions and  arguments the Bank Employees have again gone on strike today at the call of so called leaders who betrayed them. They have provided legitimacy to the discredited leaders. They gone on strike for issues which does not concern them. They have lost one days' salary again. They will do this today's work tomorrow. They have lost the sympathy of general public by going on strike immediately after wage revision. They have further eroded their relations with the Government.
Why should the Government be sympathetic to your demands when you oppose the Govt jut for the hack of it and try to put spanner in whatever reforms the Government wants to introduce. By going on strike today the bank employees have provided legitimacy and oxygen to the retired leaders of UBFU, who are not at all concerned with the issues that agitate the common bank employees.
You have revived their fiefdom by losing your wages and honouring their call for a strike. You are so myopic that you cannot see the changes sweeping the world in general and your country in particular. By striking today you have shown that you are not only incorrigible you are so dumb also that you cannot discern what is in your favour and what is against you. In essence you are incapable of thinking rationally and only blindly follow people who have proven track record of incompetency ,deceit and selfishness..
Please mark my words "Today's Strike is an epoch making strike like the strike of 20th January 1982 ands its impact on your working will be very much longer lasting and it will hasten the changes some of which may not be of our liking. In the end YOU, bank employees will be the category who will pay highest price for this strike. It will not have any impact on a strong Govt. Whatever reforms have to take place will take place and your condition will be akin to rats trapped on a sinking ship.
Sri Kamlesh Chaturvedi writes on facebook as follows

I think there is no need to get anguished and loose hope. We can just make sincerest efforts and we must continue to do the same. Even if our sincerest efforts don't yield desired results, we must initiate discussion and debate to find out where we committed mistake or what is required to be done. As regards strike, one needs to go in details of the reason.

As Jain Danendra Sir pointed out possibilities of it being a politically motivated strike can't be ruled out. Its the irony of fate that trade union movement of our country is divided on political grounds-every major political party has its trade union wing. Then, one day strike never ever can pressurise or create impact on Government.

Those who sincerely want welfare of Bank Employees, they must bear in mind that they will have to face challenges from these politically affiliated trade union leaders. Instead of applying your mind on these leaders, you must constantly pay attention on bank employees related issues and must strive to create awareness amongst bank employees. Even if a force of 100 fully devoted and committed activists gets generated who are determined to put their every thing, things would start moving in desired direction

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