Staff Reporter

It is against the spirit of labour reforms, says bankers' body

MADURAI: The proposed amendment to Factories Act making woman employees to work in night shifts obligatory would be detrimental to the interests of women, said Shantha Raju, general secretary, All-India Bank Officers' Confederation here on Monday.

Briefing presspersons, he said the amendment was against the spirit of labour reforms.

Welcoming Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's views on subsidised interest rates for priority lending, Mr. Raju emphasised the social responsibility of the Government. Any proposed amendment to Banking Regulation Act favouring reconstitution of the boards of nationalised banks would only dilute the powers of the Reserve Bank of India and the Government, which held 51 per cent of shares. As a banking regulator, it was the responsibility of the RBI to protect depositors' interests. It would indirectly introduce corporate culture in the banking sector.

Public sector banks must retain the proviso of voting right with the cap of 10 per cent, he said and voiced his concern against the proposal to remove the restriction on voting right. "Any alteration will indirectly facilitate corporates taking over the board."

Under the Industrial Disputes Act, a corporate entity with more than 100 employees could not force any employee to quit without compensation. Attempts were being made to increase the limit from 100 to 300, which would encourage the `hire-and-fire' attitude of corporates, he said.

Special economic zones were established to the liking of the corporates since all labour laws need not be implemented there. In the name of technology initiative, recruitments had come to a grinding halt. Considering the workload, adequate replacements, at least for the retired staff, should be provided.

Agitation plan

The bank employees might launch a series of agitations in support of the demands, which also include compassionate appointments. There were about 10,000 officers' vacancies in State Bank of India alone and the number of vacancies for clerical cadre was mind boggling, G.D. Nadaf, general secretary, All-India State Bank Officers Federation, said.

He wanted the Government to set right the imbalance in the fitment scale, especially in the cases of clerical staff promoted as officers.

Mr. Raju opposed outsourcing in the banking sector. On non-performing assets, he said there should be legislative measures to recover the Rs.1.5 lakh crore NPA.