Top management of the biggest bank of the country, State Bank of India, is on a war path with the officers wings of associations operating in different circles of the bank through out India. Their Federation consisting of different circle unions staged a demonstration on the last 28th August in pursuit of their demands. Nothing new as demonstrations form the very fabric of any union falling fully within the ambit of the unions’ jurisdiction in fundamental terms. The action was not liked by the Chairman of the Bank, Pratip Chaudhary, who has otherwise an image of an arrogant administrator most often suffering from an egoistic fallacy. He ordered issuance of show cause notices starting from top leadership in the Federation downward to the General Secretaries of all the 14 circles calling for an explanation from them as to why they staged a demonstration on 28/08/2012 within the Bank’s premises disturbing its working. The demonstration so staged was during the lunch break, which is not, and can’t be, notified as working hours for public, and the customers are quite well aware of it. The question, accordingly, doesn’t arise to the effect that any work of the Bank was disrupted. An act like demonstration is a frugal most action of protest on the part of the respective unions which they follow seeking remedy to their grievances. Any thing below this amounts to zero. Unions outstanding demands include 5 day a week at par with the Central Government personnel instead of 6 day a week presently. This has not yet been responded as yet by the Bank affirmatively. Adding fuel to the fire, the Chairman announced his plan for 7 day a week in a press conference callously ignoring the amount of inconvenience it may cause to the workforce and their families. This was a sheer move adopted unilaterally. It’s on record in the world history that many of the workers had to lay down their lives fighting for regulated working hours with a day off once a week. This is but incumbent on the part of the feudal minds not to forget the very blood red chapter in the history. They should also realise that, if the situation so warrants, history has a known tendency to repeat itself. State Bank of India has the credit of being one of the firsts to accept the concept of bilateral relationship between workers and the management introducing the forum of bi-partite talks for routine negotiations at every level to sort out and remedy various issues concerned with the industry. There are reports that the Chairman, Pratip Chaudhary, had some sort of a snub from his superiors in Reserve Bank of India and the Government for the reasons that immediately after he took over as Chairman, the Bank suffered a heavy loss followed by his casualness in the matters of overall performance. This obviously might have irritated him, and his priorities and preference fell on dealing tough with the workforce to project himself as a strong administrator targeting the unions for the purpose. He should be aware that no unions worth their name can tolerate an onslaught against their fundamentals.
Reports are that the officers unions/ Federation are not moving in an effective measure in the matter befitting their fundamentals so involved. There are also reports that they are divided on mode of agitations. It happens, but there lies the role of their leadership whose job is to see that all are united to be capable of taking the struggle ahead more effectively. Problem with the officers union is that their membership consists of those who just can’t afford foregoing their career orientation, and this is possible only when they are, and remain, in the good books of their superiors. Degree of dependence on superiors differs from rank to rank. Whatever it is, but once they have their own unions, they do have to care for their fundamentals failing which their survival as such is bound to flop at some stage or the other. Presently it is a matter of a mere demonstration, and what will happen if there are more vital areas when issues like some dharna or some strike (token or prolonging one) are there. Stand erect and fight, that is the call of the day, leaders.