LETTER SENT BY AIRRBEA TO SRI.P.CHIDAMBARAM ON THE REDRESSAL OF THEIR LONG PENDING DEMANDS
All India Regional Rural Bank Employees Association Kolkata – 52
Sri P. Chidambaram
Hon’ble Finance Minister
Government of India
Sub: Our long pending demands and issues – agitational programmes
We beg to draw your kind attention that once again the Gramin Bank employees and officers all over the country under the banner of the AIRRBEA are on the path of struggle. Today hundreds of them are sitting in a Dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi as a part of their all India agitation proramme, which include flash strike if the RRB At Amendment Bill, 2013 is pushed for passing in the Parliament
Let us explain our issues in nutshell for your kind consideration for the interest of not only the work force of the RRBs but also for the interest of common people in the countryside and the rural development measures to be implemented more effectively.
Our main issues are as follows:
1. On RRB Act Amendment Bill 2013: On 22 April 2013 Hon’ble Finance Minister, GOI placed the said Bill to the Parliament seeking amendment of, amongst others, Sections 6 and 9, allowing private capital in RRBs’ ownership keeping 51% for the central Government and the Sponsor Bank together, with provision that State Governments may or may not have any share, if they so desire. This is nothing but handing over the RRBs in a platter to the private sector, and to dilute the objective for which these RRBs were established. It is an established fact that RRBs, now 57 in number, have been doing well with their big network of more than 18,000 branches now, and all committees set up by the GOI/RBI/NABARD have highly praised their role in rural credit and participating in various government sponsored schemes. They have earned profit of more than Rs 2300 Crores as on 31.03.2013, and they have already served more than 15 crore of rural people. Dr C Rangarajan Committee couple of years back has termed the RRBs as best instrument for better coverage under Financial Inclusion programme, which is a very challenging task in India. Not only this, Standing Committee on Finance in the Parliament, unanimously recommended twice, once in 1993 and again in 2003, for formation of State Level Rural Banks delinking them from the existing Sponsor Banks, to make them more effective and responsive to the needs of the rural credit and development. Prof Vyas Commiittee also suggested for delinking of RRBs from the existing sponsor Banks and reorganize them into State Level Banks under Holding Company etc. Ignoring all these, the GOI has come out with a retrograde proposal to amend the Act to privatize the RRBs only to serve the purpose of the Corporate Sector who wants to take over banking business in rural areas for their own gains. We all know the past record of private sector in Banks, prior to nationalization and also post nationalization, how they have caused damage to the hard earned money of the common man. So our strong protest and demand of withdrawal of the amendment Bill now lying before the Standing Committee of the Parliament.
2. On Pension Parity : Government of India, Ministry of Finance, did not keep their commitment to ensure parity of Pension even after approval by the Hon’ble Finance Minister, GOI of “on Principle” Parity on 20.06.2012. The Award of the National Industrial Tribunal of 30.04.1990 and successive orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court directed the Government of India to ensure parity of wage structure of RRB employees with those in Nationalized Banks, but the authorities are always taking some plea or the other to deny or delay the whole process particularly in granting Pension to RRB staff at par with those in Banking Industry. Even after clear verdict of the Hon’ble High Courts of Karnataka and also of Rajasthan at its Jodhpur Bench on 22.03.2012 and on 15.09.2012 respectively, the Government instead of implementing the same, filed a SLP before the Hon’ble Supreme Court to delay, deny and complicate the situation. A good number of employees and officers have retired and their financial condition is very precarious, some of them died by this time of acute financial crisis in their family.
3. On Man power and Branch expansion: In any service institution, not to speak of institution like RRB (Gramin Bank), need of adequate. man power and massive branch expansion cannot be wished away. We have suggested scientific man power planning and massive branch expantion number of times keeping in view the needs of the rural people who are in dire need of banking services. Thorat committee norms were much on lower side for provision of man power compared to the needs i.e. business volume and number of transactions per day, but the same were imposed in September 2009. Even the pressure of work beyond normal business hours, like dealing with large number of Government sponsored Schemes, MGNREGA, Old Age Pension, Widow Pension, huge task under KCC and SIIG finance and so many other areas of works have not been taken under consideration for providing manpower. CBS system has been put in place as a plea to deny providing minimum required staff, though the fact remains that for making counter transactions only there is basic need of two officers under this system ab initio as maker and checker so as to avoid any scope of fraud or mistake.
4. While opposing outsourcing of bank jobs, we demand that at least man power norm of Thorat Committee be provided and recruitment/promotion process relating to business position of 31.03.2013 must be completed by 31.03.2014, to see that work load mounting day by day does not go out ofproportions to affect not only the interest of staff members, but also does not tell upon heavily on the customer service i.e. service to the poor in villages mainly.
5. On Regularization of Part time/ Casual/ daily waged/Contractual workers: Cruelty of management is manifest looking to the exploitation of the daily waged workers engaged by most of RRBs to do the job of office attendant. in various names/nomenclature and without paying minimum wages fixed by thegovernment and/or Bank Industry and without giving benefits of Provident Fund, Bonus, Gratuity, Leave facilities etc for years together to this section of staff. Even the paltry wages paid to them is paid in different names in most cases just to bypass the provisions of labour laws of the country. This section of workers have keptthe branches and offices running in absence of regular employees, so our demand is to regularize these employees by giving relaxation in age and qualification, because they are doing the job of those whose posts are vacant for a long time.
6. On other allowances/ benefits and Computer Increment: Even after repeated assurances from the Government and NABARD, and even after unanimous decision of the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) long back in its meeting in February 2011 recommending to allow other allowances and benefits including Computer Increment in line with. those in sponsor bank, the Government is yet to issue any comprehensive order in this direction. This is violative of the Award of the National Tribunal as also the successive orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court too.
7. Staff Service Rule/Promotion Rule/Relaxation for retaining period, promotion of Class IV Staff etc. must be same/similar in RRBs as those in Banking Industry. Trade Union leaders should be allowed the special leave and other facilities as available in Banking Industry.
8. On workers Participation in management: It is quite a fallacy that even after 37 years of existence of RRB system; Government is yet to allow representation of workmen and officers in the Board of Management of RRBs. In Banking Industry the same is in vogue since long, and as modern management in public sector units this arrangement has been established to ensure that the institution does not go in its activities without taking the work force into confidence, and work force is not put to feel let down by the management. RRBs are still managed by deputed officers mainly and there are complaints of inefficiency and corruption at the top of administration. So, participation of workmen and officers must be ensured without further loss of time to protect the interest of not only the staff but also the institution as a whole.
We from AIRRBEA appeal to your kind self to look into the matters urgently so that industrial unrest in RRBs can be avoided.
(A Sayeed Khan)