stagnation increment for bank officers

9th Bipartite settlement signed between IBA and Bank unionson 27th November 2009  .
At last IBA has signed on agreement for 17.5% hike in wages of bank employees and also agreed for second option of pension for those who were left earlier after struggle of bank employees for two years. Everyone is expected to congratulate leaders of employees for their sustained efforts to achieve respectful agreement.
It is reported that additional cost of pension arising due to wage revision over and above 10% of bank’s contribution will be borne by employees. This burden will be recovered form arrear payable to an employee. The burden said to come on the shoulder of Government or bank on account of pension will also be due to arrear payable to employees who have already retired.
Here the question arises how the government will recover the share of burden from retired employees. As it was apprehended by many bankers , bank employees presently serving the bank has to sacrificed considerable portion of their arrear or wage   for those who are said to be have retired from the bank long ago. Of course some old leaders will also be benefited by this gesture .there is no doubt that such gesture for retirees will annoy a large section of employees who will get lesser enhancement in their net monthly salary.
SBI group has protested the wage revision on the ground that they will get lesser amount of arrear because major portion of burden will go towards pension payment to retirees as also towards making provision for existing employees. It is not out of place to mention here that SBI employees are already privileged class of bankers because they are getting pension as third benefit whereas employees of other PSU banks are not getting pension as third terminal benefit. Further if they choose to opt for pension they have to share major portion of burden likely to occur in future on bank’s books and also refund banker’s contribution of PF already accumulated in their PF account. Besides SBI probationary officers get additional four increments when they join the bank.
It is worthwhile to mention here that SBI gets preferred and better treatment from the government not because their performance is praiseworthy but because most of the government department fund is managed by SBI branches. It will not be exaggeration if I say that if government claims interest on fund they keep in SBI, the bank will undoubtedly face severe erosion in their profit.
If customer service becomes the yardstick for ascertaining the eligibility for privileged treatment, there is no doubt that SBI will qualify for inferior treatment compared to Public sector other banks?
I think the wage agreement signed on 27th November 2009 is apparently praiseworthy but it will cause some confusion and raise many eyebrows in coming days. Since it has been settled after lapse of two years there is all round appreciation of the agreement and sign of relief is visible on the face of several employees.
But compared to wage structure and pay revision accepted for central government employees, the wage structure of bankers is still very poor and not enthusiastic if net gain is understood after threadbare analysis of the agreement. Voice of protest and line of litigation in courts may bring about hurdle before release of arrears. There are many if and buts.
Let us hope for a successful framing of wage structure which may please maximum of bank employees and hope they will get considerable increase in their take hope pay.
stagnation in pay scale
Last but not the least; I will definitely expect that leaders will remove the word stagnation in pay scale of officers. I feel pity for those experienced officers who have all talent and who are hard workers but could not get promotion due to many constraints beyond the control of officer.
When number of vacancies is less in upper scale, management is constrained to give fewer promotions. As such when officer is good worker and he has reached last stage of his scale, he is entitled to get at least annual increment.
I feel pity for such senior officers because they are not getting annual increment after they reach last stage of their scale even when they are shouldering responsibility of large branches successfully. On the contrary non performing clerks as well as officers get annual increment only because they are junior.
 Obviously the word stagnation is deceptive and a curse for senior officers. In olden days when officer was not found fit for promotion due to inefficiency he was to face stagnation as mild dose of punishment. This used to happen when promotion based on seniority used to take place and management sed to give promotion even if there were not adequate vacancies in that scale.
In most of the central government department there is provision for time bound promotion and hence question of stagnation in particular scale does not arise. It is perhaps only in banks that even after completing twenty or thirty scale promotions are not given an employee. Now-a-days Interview is a killer injection in the almirah of management which can be injected to good or bad performer in promotion process.
In brief there is no justification for stopping increment for two three years to a senior officer in the name of stagnation. If management feels that there is no scope for promoting officers in a particular scale to upper scale in lack of adequate vacancy , they must keep the scale long enough to accommodate senior officers and ensure that they continue to get increment every year until there is report of any misconduct or inefficiency.
When leaders and bank management can give relief to retired employees, why can’t they agree for continuous annual income to those who have reached last stage of their scale?
Here I would like to add that when management finds an officer guilty of minor misconduct they penalize him by stopping his one annual increment for one year without cumulative effect. It means disallowing an officer for increment for two three years in the name of stagnation, or for the reason that he has reached the last stage of his pay scale is tantamount to penalizing him with more greater penalty for none of his fault.
If management finds an officer unfit for promotion and unfit for release of annual increment in the name of increment they are not justified in entrusting such stagnated senior officer with higher responsibility such as Branch Manager of large branch, rather they should prefer junior officer to should responsibility of bigger branch. It is ridiculous that most of senior middle management officers and most of the executives in Scale IV to scale VII are not getting annual increment even though they are sitting t top and the hold the most responsible post.
Similarly when a clerk even reaching last stage of his scale is found unfit for promotion to officer cadre it is the weakness and inefficiency of the management that they fail to train, irrigate and convert the inefficient senior clerk to efficient clerk suitably enough to be promoted as officer. It is enough to prove inefficacy of Human Resource Development Department and ineffectiveness of entire training system.
After all what else they give to experienced officers other than stagnation losses for none of their fault. I have no doubt in my conviction that it is not only management but also the union leaders who failed completely to erase the word stagnation from pay scale of bank employees. There are numerous examples in banks that an officer promoted by the management to scale III is given the posting of branch Manager where a scale I or scale II officer is supposed to work. It is enough to substantiate the fact that large scale whimsical promotions are taking place in banks and this happens only because unchallengeable power is given to interviewer to make or mar career of an officer in the promotion processes.  
If anyone do not agree with my views expressed above I request them to please justify the continuance of stagnation in pay scale under changed scenario in the banking industry.
Secondly in the age of full scale computerization management is thinking of abolishing special allowances payable to award staff.  I think special allowances now can be considered for Insurance business mobilizers, ATM managing persons, person ensuring compliance of KYC norms , demat account motivators,CASA business mobilisers etc.
I request above points will be kept in mind by those persons who are entrusted to decide fresh wage structure in unison with 9th Bipartite agreement signed between IBA and Bank unions while framing new pay scales for officers and award staff.
Danendra Jain Agartala
28th November 2009

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