Nation First is the motto of NOBW. Bank Industry and workmen interests are protected in nationalist perspective, says Vice President Mr Ashwani Rana while highlighting the achievements of the organization in the long struggle of 50 years.
National Organisation of Bank Workers’ has completed 50 years of existence this February. Formed on 5th February 1965 at Nagpur in Maharashtra, the Organisation has come a long way now. This journey of 50 years witnessed many highs and lows, events, sacrifice and dedication. Before the birth of NOBW, the Bank employees were largely united under the banner of AIBEA. Another bank employees’ movement viz. AIBEF controlled by INTUC existed too. Many of the present workers of NOBW were working in the AIBEA in the hope that unity is essential to workers’ cause. But gradually a feeling developed that this lure of unity was only a slogan given by politicians to exploit the labour for political ends — and in the Banking Industry, which was the power house of economy – for anti national and disruptive ends.
During 1962 China aggression, Communists called the Chinese Army “Liberation Army” (Mukti Sena). Nationalists among bank employees strongly opposed the term “Mukti Sena”. In the AIBEA Calcutta Conference held immediately after China aggression, the nationalists moved a resolution against China Aggression. Communists opposed the resolution and supported the China aggression stating that communist countries never attack but only send Mukti Sena. This point on nationalists among bank workers decided to form a separate organization. Thus was born National Organisation of Bank Workers’ (NOBW) on 5th February, 1965 at Nagpur.
Shri B.G. Gaur from Reserve Bank of India was the first General Secretary of NOBW. After formation, number of bank unions and State federations were affiliated to NOBW. The NOBW resolved to affiliate with Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) in Ajmer Conference on 2nd May, 1969. Shri A.M. Puranik from Canara Bank elected as General Secretary, Shri G.S. Gokhale as President, and Shri Chaman Lal Bharadwaj, Punjab National Bank as vice President.
To face the majority unions, challenge them on policy issues, growth in membership, opposing attacks on the activists was a herculean task and can only be compared with the spirit of warriors who are committed to their aims, principles and to preserve the values risking their life. Yet, the handful activists stood bravely against such onslaught and marched forward relentlessly to make NOBW as a trustworthy and reckoning force in the banking fraternity. Sacrifice and dedication of those activists has now reaped rich dividends. Greeting of Foundation Day would remain incomplete, if we do no salute them.
NOBW since inception has always focused on the interest of nation, industry and workmen. On many occasions in the past, NOBW played a major role to protect the interest of workmen. Some of the highlights are essential to be recalled on this occasion.
- The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) signed a settlement with AIBEA/NCBE on 8th September 1983 for mechanisation. Looking at the far reaching implication of the provisions of Settlement, NOBW chose to stay away from it even at the cost of not inviting by IBA for Bi-partite Settlements. And for consecutive 14 years, NOBW suffered this loss in the interest of the workmen and industry. Now we see that the mechanisation has become so rampant that despite tremendous increase in number of branches and workload of the banks, the working staff is much reduced in proportion. This is nothing but retrenchment by pseudo means in the name of much hyped banking reforms.
- In formation of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) in the year 1997, NOBW was cohesive factor to forge the unity amongst all the trade unions in the banking industry. “Wage Freeze” threat to UCO Bank employees prompted the creation of UFBU. For the keeping banking fraternity intact, NOBW endeavoured and was successful to keep at bay the differences of working style and principles.
- NOBW pointed out 11 anomalies in the 2nd Bi-partite Settlement and started agitations all over country which forced the negotiating unions to back out from their own signed settlement and to rephrase it afresh. Similarly, NOBW succeeded in setting aside the tampering DA formula which was agreed by majority unions, in the year 1978 at the time of 3rd Bipartite Settlement.
- One glorious example of empathy of NOBW with workmen is that it refused to sign the 7the Bi-partite Settlement on 27th March 2002 on the issue that arrears of the Settlement were not disbursed to three weak banks at par with other banks, while all other unions gladly stamped their seal. Only after the disbursement of arrears to those weak bank employees, NOBW signed the settlement on 9th August 2002.
- NOBW was the only organisation that stood firm by the side of One More Pension Option to the deprived bank employees. All other unions had sent this vital provision to cold storage on the pretext that those who have missed the bus be not granted another opportunity. The struggle only by the NOBW for more than a decade brought cheers to such deprived employees, when One More Pension Option was granted to bank employees.
- Now at the time of 10th Bi-partite Settlement, NOBW has been trying for a better deal to the bank employees so that they should get “honourable” wage hike. NOBW has been keenly interested in launching massive agitation to secure the demand. However, consensus could not be reached amongst the factors of UFBU and NOBW compelled to contend so that unity of UBFU should not be splintered. NOBW still has not abandoned its efforts and shall continue to fight to remove any injustice to the workmen cadre.
- For betterment in the Hospitalisation Scheme in the light of spirally high medical expenses, NOBW mooted the idea of improved Scheme on the lines of Central Government, where maximum benefit of best medical treatment should be available to the bank employees in cases of dire need and some life threatening diseases. The proposal is under discussion between IBA & UFBU.
These are the only few examples to exhibit NOBW’s struggle, sacrifice and achievement to protect the interest of nation, industry and workmen simultaneously.
Some more issues which receiving attention of NOBW and we resolve to take on for the betterment of industry and workmen.
- For effective management of rising NPAs, a committee should be formed which would assess the accountability aspect at higher level. Recovery of NPAs is a major area of concern.
- Enhanced reliance on outsourcing by the banks in almost all areas of operations such as Business Facilitators, Cash Management, Opening of accounts, POS, Cross Selling is virtually killing permanent job opportunities in the banking sector. Out sourcing gives birth to exploitation of the labour.
- NOBW has been espousing the demands of part-time, daily wage workers, consolidated paid workers, bank deposit collectors, who are rendering their services for too long period, in some cases more than 20-30 years, are still not on permanent in employment. NOBW committed to their cause and will take appropriate steps to resolve the same.
- NOBW has been demanding formation of National Rural Bank of India to consolidate Regional Rural Banks in order to serve the nation in a more proper way through this sector which is rendering banking services in the far remote areas. This will also bring uniformity in the service conditions. Formation of such Bank would allow Government to reach these areas for the uplift of the downtrodden.
- For the similar reasons, NOBW is harping on the issue of formation of National Co-operative Bank, to bring all cooperative banks under one umbrella and to eliminate defects in running such banks by the groups of vested interest.
- The bank employees have become lowest paid workers as against the risk and workload involved. The youths are shying away to join banks. To overcome the problems, NOBW has been demanding better wage for bank employees and doing its all best to achieve the same. Parity with Central Pay Commission wages to attract the talented youth of India in the banks as also been NOBW’s demand.
As an affiliate of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, NOBW strongly believes in keeping nation’s interest foremost.