The Indian Banks Association has agreed to 17.5 per cent wage hike for employees and officers in the banking industry, according to B.S. Rambabu, general secretary of AP Bank Employees' Federation and joint secretary of All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA).

Mr. Rambabu, who was appointed Workmen Director of Central Bank of India, was here to participate in the 65th foundation day of AIBEA held in the city on Tuesday.

Addressing a media conference in this connection, he said that the 9{+t}{+h} Bipartite Wage Settlement, effective from November 1, 2007, came to an end recently.

The AIBEA, on the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), had been negotiating with the IBA for the last two years. He said that the government had agreed to give one more option to join the pension scheme for those who did not opt for it when it was introduced during 1995.

About four lakh employees and officers would be benefited by the pension scheme.

Privatisation threat

Referring to the frequent threat of privatisation and dilution of government's equity in the public sector banks, Mr. Rambabu said that it was these banks that had withstood the global economic crisis while many of their private counterparts in the country and abroad had collapsed. He recalled that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had himself admitted it.

He said that the government had reduced its stake to 51 per cent in most of the public sector banks and was planning to reduce it further to 33 per cent, thereby privatising 67 per cent. He felt that the proposal of the government to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 74 per cent in private banks and to remove the 10 per cent ceiling on the voting rights in the banks would have disastrous consequences. Subsequently, FDI may also be allowed into the public sector banks.

Mr. Rambabu alleged that the government was also making efforts to change the labour laws to suit the needs of corporate houses and foreign investors.

These measures had brought drastic changes from mass banking to class banking, from rural banking to urban banking and productive finance to speculative finance.

He said that the unions were opposed to the mergers and amalgamations of the public sector banks. He added that the AIBEA, under the banner of UFBU, was planning to launch a series of agitation programmes, including indefinite strike if necessary, to protect the banking industry.

Felicitated

Later in the evening, Mr. Rambabu was felicitated by the Visakhapatnam District Bank Employees' Coordinator Committee on his appointment as Workmen Director.

Committee president I. Kesava Rao and other office-bearers A. Koteswara Rao, Satyaki Prasad, P.S. Malleswara Rao, MVSN Raju and P. Mangapathi Rao were among those who attended.

More In: Visakhapatnam