Sep 29, 2013

Poor Condition of PSU Bankers... Letter to Finance Ministry & RBI Governor


Finance Ministry & RBI Governor,

Sub: Reg Working conditions, Humilation, Harassment & Disgrace facing by PSU Bankers… PLEASE SAVE US FROM ALL THIS…..

Recently, Shri. Namo Narain Meena, Union Minister of State for Finance has stated in Parliament that the bank personnel shall not be compared and equated with central government employees, as the service conditions, wage accords, their tenure etc. of these two classes of employees are totally different from each other. It is true. But, he has conveyed only one part of the story. Let us see the remaining part of the story.

1. Working Hours

The working hours of bank employees are different from that of central government employees. In case of bank officers, there are no specific timings for their working and many a time, their work stretches from 9 to 10 hours every day. There is neither monetary compensation nor any kind of recognition for their toiling for extra hours. On the contrary, those who are compelled to sit late to complete the day’s work or attending to a special assignment are unfairly branded as ‘slow, lazy, inefficient and technologically obsolete’. The added irony is these officers are required to be punctual to their office the next morning. Even Saturdays, which are said to be half a day for the banks are in practice a full working day which fact attracts nobody’s attention.

2. Nature of Work

Unlike the central government staff, the work load of bank staff on every day is determined by the customers visiting the branch/office or contacting over phone, email, fax, post, courier and personal messenger. Therefore, the bank staff cannot relax themselves, leave alone take rest for 5 minutes, after every hour’s work. This increases the pressure on them. Since the customers today are very demanding and even enter into arguments or quarrel on petty and unreasonable issues, the bank staff find it very difficult to concentrate on their work properly. Whenever there is a complaint from a customer, the management is not willing to hear the version of the staff concerned and the customer’s complaint is taken at its face value and the management believes that the fault always lies with the staff only.

The range of jobs performed by any bank employee/officer has widened greatly today. But, comparatively, central government staff work in tight compartments and if someone remains absent for any reason, his/her work remains untouched till such person returns. It is not the case for the bank staff, especially those at the branches.

3. Holidays

The number of bank holidays has gradually come down during the last 2 decades. This number is also not constant or uniform across all Indian states. In the recent times, almost every year, RBI advises the banks to conduct 2 or 3 times inter-bank clearing on the last working day of the year to transact government business. Because of it, the banks are unable to start their annual closing work till 7 P.M. on the last working day and their day end jobs for that day stretches up to 10-00 or 11 P.M. The pity is for the next day, the staff are required to come in time so as to complete the annual closing and preparation of auditor’s file.

It has become a regular practice for the management nowadays to hold business review conference or a new product launch or road shows or recovery drives on Sundays and other holidays. Besides, the branch manager, credit department officers and some more officers come to the office on their own to clear the back log of work, now and then. It is not uncommon to see some officers and managers carrying office files to their homes, as they are unable to dispose of them in the midst of busy, daily routine. For inspection and audit related work, the bank officers have to sit late and work on holidays too.

There is no compensatory off given for working on holidays. Nor there is any monetary compensation for working on holidays. Even if we assume that very little monetary compensation is given, it will go into the bank records and will create an awakening as to the acute staff shortage prevailing in the banks today. Moreover, many banks cannot afford to meet this ‘extra burden’(!) with their present size of profits. Probably, this is the reason why the banks want to avoid recording of late sitting of officers and their working on holidays too.

4. Leave Rules and Implementation

The bank staff cannot avail casual leave for half a day unlike their counterparts in the government departments. Moreover, they cannot go on leave even if there is a pressing reason, unless it is sanctioned. Even when their leave has been sanctioned in advance, it is not certain that they will be allowed to proceed on leave as scheduled. Many a time, the management curtails the sanctioned leave of its officers and subjects the officers concerned to untold misery. Because of this, a vast majority of the bank officers are unable to utilize their full share of leave in a year and their unused leave elapses after certain period. What a great injustice!

The central government staff have ‘Restricted Holidays’ which facility is not available to bank staff. Moreover, they work for only 5 days in a week.

5. Transferability

The central or state government staff are also transferable as per their service conditions. But in reality, they are rarely transferred and if at all transferred, they will be posted to nearby districts within the same state. Transfer to a place outside one’s home state is made only in case of higher officials, comparable to AGM rank in banks. In contrast, even officers in JMGS I are posted to far off places, sometimes even 1000 to 1500 Kms. away from their present place of work. On an average, the number of transfers received by a bank officer is 10 to 15 in one’s entire career spanning more than 35 years.

Very frequent transfers deprive an officer of his lifetime savings and the accumulated leave gets exhausted more quickly. The officer is unable to educate his children in their mother tongue and considering the fact that ours is a country of diverse cultures and ethnic groups, the children are the worst affected as they are forced to learn as many languages as is necessary. They are unable to develop long and healthy friendship with the children of their age group, because of frequent change of places and schools. No amount of money can compensate this particular loss. This does not happen to the children of government staff.

In the name of social adaptability, one shall not be compelled to forget one’s roots and lose his ethnic identity (By this, I do not refer to any caste identity).

6. Risks

Because the banks deal in money and money related products, the bank staff are exposed to financial risks, day in and day out. In case of any unintentional errors and trivial procedural lapses, the bank management does not view them compassionately and resorts to some kind of punishment mostly. Apart from monetary loss, these honest officers lose their reputation and credibility in the eyes of others. It may ruin the entire career of many officers. It does not happen to government staff as long as they are honest.

7. Monetary Compensation

The bank staff were once given one of the best compensation packages in the country. But, during the last 2 decades, they have lost their pride of place and sunk to the bottom. In terms of monetary compensation, they are nowhere near their counterparts in the government departments and the other (profit making) public sector undertakings. In fact, what they receive as compensation does even match that of a central government employee in one rung below in the organizational hierarchy in comparison. This has happened in the aftermath of implementation of the 6th Pay Commission at the Centre. Since it is a fact well known to everyone, no further explanation needs to be given.

This is regardless of the countless risks undertaken by the bank officers and their working for longer hours every day, without the much needed rest and weekly holidays.

8. Career Progression

Once upon a time, people from government sectors and teaching staff from colleges relinquished their jobs and joined the banks in large numbers (even in Clerical grade), because of the promising careers the banks in India offered those days. Now, just the reverse flow takes place, because of bad H.R. policies and dim career prospects in banks, especially public sector banks. People get stuck at one point, without further promotions, due to a variety of reasons. But the central government staff have running scales, without stagnating at any stage. This is a great disparity, shattering the morale and motivation of bank staff.

9. Organisational Culture and Climate

The climate and culture prevailing in public sector banks today are so rigid, unhelpful and hostile. Bank officers are treated so shabbily and insulted repeatedly and yet they are expected to produce the best results. ‘Right man at the right place’principle is not at all followed. Similarly, without providing necessary training to the staff, the management expects them to perform all kinds of jobs. It may be recalled that unless the staff are freed from their routine drudgery, they do not have spare time to learn anything new and acquire any additional skills on their own. This is conveniently forgotten by the management.

Next important aspect is performance appraisal. Modern and scientific performance evaluation tools and mechanisms are not put in place. Hence the performance evaluation is subjective, faulty and highly prejudiced. The noble objectives of performance appraisal are never borne in mind. Performance Appraisal has become a meaningless ritual to be completed at the end of each year. Many a time, they are mere ‘fault finding exercises’. Obviously, the results of such appraisal activity produce inept managers and executives who guide the destiny of the organization. The really talented and qualified people are sidelined and they turn dull, insipid and indolent. They do not show initiative and wantonly reduce their output to the just required level, because they are aware they will not get their due share in the organization anyway.

10. Hygiene and Health

Tremendous work pressure coupled with lack of adequate rest has a direct bearing on the health of the bank officers. They are exposed to all kinds of health hazards like high blood pressure, diabetes, poor eye sight, disturbed concentration etc. Psychologically too, they are affected greatly. In an attempt to remember and do so many things at a time, they sometimes forget an important task or commit a costly mistake. Long working hours has its own toll on the degree of their efficiency, especially in the evening. Because of their inability to fulfill their social needs, they are unable to cultivate healthy personal relationships outside their family. This is another loss of permanent nature that cannot be undone nor compensated by any other means.

11.Pension Rules

Whenever there is a wage revision, the pension of the retired government staff is automatically revised. But, this is not done in the case of bank employees. Due to this injustice, there is a huge disparity in the amount of pension drawn by successive batches of pensioners. To illustrate further, an officer retired in 1980s gets a paltry pension of Rs.3,500, whereas an officer who served in the same rank and retired recently gets more than Rs.20,000 as pension. This anomaly must be corrected this time.

12.Life Expectancy

The average life span of a bank officer gets shortened, each passing year. As per one study, the average life expectancy of a bank officer is only 63 years. In the last 5 years, there has been a spate of cases reporting the death of bank officers while in harness. It is a very tragic development. Bank officers do not live longer, only because of the work pressure and humiliation faced by them, while in service.
And Sir one important point you are recommended 7th pay commission for central govt employees please think about us also…

So, Is it unfair to expect higher compensation for them, vis-à-vis their counterparts in the government who are not exposed to comparable risks and pressures????

rahul dhir

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