ABOUT US

The trade union movement of Officers in the Banking Industry in our country has been unique and eventful. Upto early sixties, Bank managements used Officers as a tool for perpetuating their interests without sharing any of the rights of the management with the Officers’ community and foisted rigid service conditions coupled with indignities and injustices.Social and cultural barriers were built around the Officers. A trade union was beyond their imagination. Resentment started developing. Officers were feeling suppressed, repressed and depressed. The developments in the trade union activities of workmen organizationsimparted further need for formation of Officers’ Associations in all the banks. During mid-sixties,a tiny band of bold officers from different banks came forward and decided to fight the onslaughts of the management by formation of Officers’ Associations in Bank of India, Central Bank of India, State Bank of India and UCO Bank. The birth of such organizations was no easy task. Suspicion, vacillation and fear psychosis reigned supreme.
Nationalisation of 14 major banks in 1969 totally changed the scenario. Bank Nationalization was not only a major event in the economic life of our country but proved to be a turning point in the history of Bank Officers’ movement also. In fact the strike of 17 days in 1969 by the Officers of State Bank of India was a real fillip to the movement. The movement assumed a new dimension with emergence of a national level organization. From Bank level negotiations, an endeavour was made to project the problems of Officers in the Banking Industry to the level of the Government and a need for an apex-level organization was keenly felt. All India Confederation of Bank Officers’ Organisations (AICOBOO) was born in the year 1972. It had to its credit the struggle against unilateral implementation of Pillai Committee Recommendations, strike against anti-labour legislation – ESMA and strike for salary revision. The attempt of the Government on unilateral implementation of PCR changed the entire complexion and helped in building a strong movement resulting in a strike in June, 1978 and initiated the industry-level dialogue between IBA and Officers’ Organisations. Later, as AICOBOO was drifting away from the avowed trade union path,the necessity to give a new organizational shape to the Confederated body was keenly felt.The foundation conference of the new outfit held on 6th October, 1985 at New Delhi saw the emergence of a strong and vibrant organization – ALL INDIA BANK OFFICERS’ CONFEDERATION (AIBOC).

AIBOC soon emerged as the spokesman of Bank Officers.In the enormity of agitations, be it against premature retirements, dismissals without giving constitutional right to defence, loan melas or political interference in Banks’ functioning, infringement of trade union rights, salary revision, pension, issue of computerization or ban on recruitment, the activities of AIBOC remained in the forefront of all struggles. Efficacy of collective bargaining and negotiated settlement, hitherto the privilege of organised working class has now become a weapon in the hands of Officers also. It has negotiated successful wage settlements for supervisory cadre employees in 1985, 1990, 1995 and 1999. The last wage revision was definitely a feather in the cap of AIBOC – the settlement proved the negotiating skills of the leadership. AIBOC, through a series of measures – organizational and legal – brought about parity in wages for RRB Officers with those in commercial banks in the year, 1991. AIBOC has improved the service conditions of Officers of State Co-op. banks also quite significantly.

AIBOC, as a guiding principle of its Constitution is committed to function as an independent organization. It absorbs all streams of opinion but in decision making, is guided by collective leadership and democratic trade union functioning. AIBOC took the lead in forging unity in trade union movement and actively associated itself with formation of United Forum of Bank Unions, the rallying point of industry level unions commanding 100% membership of employees and Officers in the industry.
The Banking system is increasingly used by political-bureaucrats-criminal nexus for their advantage. AIBOC has called upon all its affiliates to exercise themselves to expose corrupt practices, to stop political lendings, expose doubtful deals, compromises, write-offs and allow prudent lendings only. With the emergence of the concept to identify weak banks as advocated by Narasimham Committee-II, the .loss making banks came under more scrutiny. A proposal for wage-freeze in banks like UCO, UBI, Indian Bank and other weak banks was mooted. AIBOC found it totally unacceptable and registered its strong opposition to the move. The attempts of establishing Private Local Area banks by the Government was again an ill-conceived measure and designed to weaken the existing RRB set-up. AIBOC vehemently protested against this move and initiated trade union action through united struggle by all Unions

UCO, UBI, Indian Bank and other weak banks was mooted. AIBOC found it totally unacceptable and registered its strong opposition to the move. The attempts of establishing Private Local Area banks by the Government was again an ill-conceived measure and designed to weaken the existing RRB set-up. AIBOC vehemently protested against this move and initiated trade union action through united struggle by all Unions

AIBOC has sizeable women membership. Many women officers have successfully climbed the career ladder. In a challenging Banking environment and high competition, their success has earned them wide recognition. Many women officers are also dedicated to trade union/social service activities etc. In order to channelise their energies, AIBOC started a Women’s Wing during 1995. Now all the Affiliates and State Units of AIBOC have set up Women’s Wings. Three National conventions, first at Mumbai in 1996 and second at Hyderabad in 1999 and third at Bangalore in 2003 have been significant milestones in the activities of our Women’s Wing. Many State level conventions have also been held at various centers creating a lot of awareness among lady officers about their rights and responsibilities. The women’s wings have conducted several seminars on emerging social and economic environments. They have taken up cudgels to protect the interests of their colleagues. They actively participate in AIBOC’s activities and respond to our organizational calls readily. AIBOC proposes to strengthen their movement further.

Banking Industry had witnessed sweeping changes in tune with the changes in the economic policies of the Government. Several Committees set up by the Government and the Reserve Bank of India rationalized the need for opening up of the economy and the banking sector. The trade union movement of the country is under tremendous pressure since reforms have commenced with a double-edged weapon of ‘exit’ and ‘closure’ in the organised sector. The disinvestments in public sector, the exit policy, the opening up of market economy, support and encouragement to private sector including MNCs etc., have kept the unions engaged in continuous struggles. The coming years will be crucial for the trade unions in the banking industry. Systematic efforts are on by the Government and other vested interests to de-unionise the bank officers and take away their job security, which the unions have earned through prolonged struggles over the last 3 decades. At this critical juncture, every member of AIBOC stands for the cause of unity of the entire working class in general and of the Employees and Officers in the Banking Industry in particular.
The destabilization has started in banking industry with de-regulation and privatization. The Government decision to bring down Government equities in State Sector Banks to 33% and introduction of a Bill entitled. The Banking Companies and Financial Institutions Amendment Bill on 13-12-2000 for the purpose had initiated the process. A Voluntary Retirement Scheme was introduced to provide exit route to Officers and employees during 2000/2001. Altogether more than one lakh employees which includes 50,000 Officers fell prey to this scheme of retrenchment. In the name of reorganization, all public sector banks were asked to close down branches and administrative offices. Computerisation, connectivity, net working, ATMs etc. have come to stay in a big way.
AIBOC and UFBU firmly opposed these measures. The trade union resistance is developing in banks and in the industry. United struggle is the motto. Against privatization and retrenchment through VRS, 2 days’ strike was observed on 15th November, 2000 and 21st December, 2000. Like-wise AIBOC and its affiliates participated in the Nation-wide strike on 21st May, 2003 to express their solidarity with the working class. It has been decided that indefinite strike action and protracted trade union action will be resorted to if Government persists with the Privatisation Bill in Parliament.

AIBOC aims at bringing out a change in management systems from the present bureaucratic anachronism to a harmonious democratic order. AIBOC has demanded appointment of Chairmen of Banks from amongst bankers with impeccable integrity and commitment to public sector philosophy. Boards of the Banks should be constituted with professionals, economists, lawyers, educationists and others with proven records. AIBOC has demanded greater representation of Officers and employees on the Boards of Banks and wider participation of employees at all levels of administration with a view to motivating the staff at operational levels for greater risk-taking and making banks more commercially competitive. AIBOC has urged the Government to make banks free from the shackles of organizations like CBI, CVC etc. At the same time AIBOC has urged the Government to empower the administration of every bank to take stern punitive measures against wrong-doers. AIBOC has asked for setting up of a machinery for amicable settlement of all industrial disputes both within the bank and also at the industry level. AIBOC aims at creating a committed, dedicated, responsive, honest and disciplined work-force which can bring about a qualitative change in the service to customers, Nation and to the Institutions.

AIBOC is fully aware of its commitment to the society. Attempts are on to attune our members as well as our affiliates towards this end. Various social services have been undertaken through our units and affiliates at different parts of our country in the following areas:
(a) Adoption of villages for imparting educational facilities to the poor;
(b) Establishment of Schools at various centers;
(c) Relief to victims of natural calamities;
(d) Organising blood donation camps and extending medical assistance to save human lives;
(e) Health promotion – organizing Health Check-up camps, diabetic camps, Cancer Check-up camps, ‘Know your heart’ programme, Yoga classes in co-ordination with specialists etc;
(f) Seminars for women relating to self-employment, thrift, budgeting and utilizing their leisure profitably for the family and the society etc. Courses on ‘Preparation and Preservation of Nutritious Food’ are also conducted with assistance of Government agencies;
(g) Encouragement of Co-operatives, Benevolent funds, Death Relief Schemes etc.;
(h) Publication of Journals and encouragement of cultural activities.
For effective communication and dissemination of information, AIBOC is bringing out a monthly journal ‘Common Bond’ which has become quite popular among Officers not only in the Banking Industry but the financial sector as a whole.