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SALARY HIKE FOR BANK STAFF IN INDIA–ANTI CLIMAX IN COVID TIME

By N. S. Venkataraman
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said stress tests indicated that gross non performing assets (GNPA) ratio of scheduled commercial banks could worsen to as high as 14.7% by their end of the current financial year from 8.5% in March,2020,

It is reported that bank employees’ unions and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) have agreed for an annual wage hike of 15 per cent to the bank staff, a move that will result in an additional yearly outgo of around Rs 7,900 crore for the banks.. As many as 8.5 lakh bank employees are set to benefit from the wage hike, which will be effective from November 2017. This means bank staff will get the salary hike with retrospective effect from November,2017

Under the agreement reached, Performance Linked Incentive will also be introduced for public sector bank staff and it will be based on operating or net profit of individual banks concerned. Close to 37 banks, including public, private and foreign banks, have mandated the IBA to negotiate with bank unions on wage hikes for their staff.

Every day, people in India now hear about closure of number of medium and small scale industrial and commercial units and private companies reducing the salary of employees steeply and millions of self employed people belonging to unorganized class going through miserable economic conditions. In such circumstances, it is totally insensitive for the bank managements to provide steep salary hike to the bank staff.

It is well known that several banks have been incurring losses and dishonest practices and scandals in the transactions of the banks are now reported too frequently. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said stress tests indicated that gross non performing assets (GNPA) ratio of scheduled commercial banks could worsen to as high as 14.7% by their end of the current financial year from 8.5% in March,2020, due to the severe impact of COVID 19 pandemic. When the banks are not making profits and interest rates on deposits are being reduced, is it appropriate for the bank managements to further increase the salary of the bank staff who are already well paid? Are not the bank managements concerned about the economics of the bank operations ?

It is shocking that the bank staff would get such steep salary hike, which will make common man suspect about the social consciousness of bank staff in a period of high stress in Indian economy and difficult job scenario due to COVID 19 crisis.. Possibly, some enlightened bank staff may feel embarrassed to receive such pay hike at the present time

At a time like this, when employees all over India are losing their jobs due to lockdown conditions, it is highly distressing that State Bank of India has opened it’s doors to former employees for different roles in the banks. As per the decision of State Bank of India, those upto 63 years of age who served in State Bank of India as scale 1 to scale 5 officers and retired at 60 are eligible to apply. What is the logic in the decision of State Bank of India to re employ retired persons , when hundreds of young people remain unemployed and aspire for jobs in the bank? It is strange that the banks are introducing voluntary retirement scheme and at the same time re employ retired persons.

It is well known that the bank unions are well organized and have the capacity and willingness to paralyse the functioning of the banks and consequently the Indian economic process , if their demands, however unjustified, would be rejected by the management and the government. Obviously, the bank managements are buying peace with the bank staff, possibly fearing strike and agitations.

One need not be surprised that guided by the “success” of the bank employees in getting their salaries raised even in the present miserable conditions in the country due to COVID 19 conditions, the other public sector employees and even government staff at central and state level would be emboldened to demand pay hike for themselves under one pretext or the other, unmindful of Covid crisis..

Certainly, this salary hike for the bank employees at the present time is bound to cause unhappiness and frustration amongst the common men. They would wonder as to whether Prime Minister Modi , who has been constantly talking about the problems of poor and downtrodden, empowerment of the distressed people and promotion of employment opportunities , would look into the matter and find some way to stop the salary hike for the bank staff and the move of the Staff Bank of India to recruit retired employees.

Prime Minister Modi can certainly understand that the above moves of the banks are against the present mood of the people and it will affect the morale of the country men , particularly the poor people who expect that the society and the government would take care of them in the present distressed period, when money is scarce both in the hands of the government and millions of people.

(Author N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.)

Published Date: Saturday, July 25th, 2020 | 07:59 AM

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