1. TRADE UNION MOVEMENT: FORMATIVE YEARS
The trade union movement of officers in the banking industry in our
country is eventful and historic. In early sixties, Bank management used
officers as a tool for perpetuation its interests without adequately empowering
the officers' community apart from setting up rigid service conditions that are
akin to indignities and injustices. Social, cultural and class barriers were
erected around the officers. A trade union for officers' community was a taboo,
There was no incentive for shouldering higher responsibilities. A
feeling of alienation/helplessness was looming large in the face of draconian,
stringent and straitjacket service/ conducts rules and regulations. Lack of
opportunity for professional advancements, absence of job security, punitive
action without any right to appeal and denial of equity and fair play were the
sum and substance of the sufferings of officers. Officers were greatly
demoralised with the ‘Master & Servant’ relationship reseed and the management’s
power to ‘hire and fire’ even after the nationalisation of State Bank Of
The resentment that started developing was without vent. The trade
union activities of workmen organisations in Bank and elsewhere propelled the
desire for formation of officers’ Associations in different Banks.
2. BIRTH OF SUPERVISING OFFICIALS’ ASSOCIATION IN
HYDERABAD CIRCLE AND OTHER CIRCLES
The longing for unity and solidarity made a tiny band of
bold officers to fight the onslaught of the management. By their untiring
efforts, the State Bank of India Supervising Officials Association (Hyderabad
Circle) was founded in the 26th June 1965
. It was subsequently named as
“State Bank Of India Officers’ Association (Hyderabad Circle)”
. The signatories to the notice for forming the Association were
, K.Srininvasa Rao
, T.Panduranga Rao
, V.Suna Rao
S. Vijaya Raghavan
, C.C.Mukundan Nambiar
, K.Siva Ramakrishna
. The firsts democratically
elected President and General Secretary of the Assocaiation were Sarashri
and V.Madhava Rao
respectively. We owe a deep sense of gratitude to those
pioneers of Officers’ movement in Hyderabad Circle.
The broad objectives of the Association are to organise and unite
all the officers of the SBI
and to secure to the members, fair conditions
of life and service and to redress their grievances.
Disregarding the adverse reaction of the management, like wise
similar Associations were formed in several circles in 1965. There was more to
come. Unity, solidarity for justice was the spirit and driving force of this
union movement, which set the tone for formation of a Federation.
The birth pangs of the organisation were immense. Suspicion,
vacillation, fear reigned supreme. The immediate reaction of the management to
the Officers’ Trade Union was hostile. The management even dismissed with
contempt the formation of Association, treating it to be a ‘petition making
The Bank, expectedly, frowned upon the Associations/Federation,
according them a status no more than ’officers clubs’. The role of the
Association was treated as supplicatory confined to making requests, but at the
mercy of the Bank. Another ground reality was that supervising officials in
were not authorised to discharge the ‘Management function’ in the
sense that they were not vested with authority to take major policy decisions in
personnel areas, but only given limited delegation to take financial and
functional decisions. They did not have authority to recruit, relocate, and
appraise performance, reward and discipline, though the founder fathers had to
face stiff opposition from the Bank and other interest groups, their attempts to
organise themselves were unique for any supervisory cadres in any industry. They
had to cross many obstacles and hurdles. Every member had to be approached and
convinced about the need and necessity to have an Association. It took a lot of
time and effort to enrol even 25 members in the beginning. Once the trend was
set, it was en masse, later.
3. HISTORIC INDEFINITE STRIKE IN STATE BANK OF INDIA
The suspension of officers in Mumbai circle was the flash point for
the officers to show up. The issue for the strike was the “Right of officers
to form Trade Union to collectively represent and right for Trade Union action
and the immunity from individual accountability for collective actions
Officers could no more put up with the provocation of the Bank and bear the
humiliations heaped on them. An instant decision was taken to go on ‘INDEFINITE
’. The word of strike spread like wild fire. From Kashmir to
Kanyakumari, Asansol to Ahmedabad, all officers downed their pens
instantaneously. The Bank retaliated and hurled threats. Invoking the concept of
‘MASTER AND SERVANT
’, terminations notices were seved to frighten the
agitating officers. The reign of terror and victimisation did not have even an
iota of effect on the officers’ community who were anyway at the end of their
tether. The strike continued undeterred by threats of termination of service.
Their anguish was at shouldering vicarious responsibilities, facing
accountability without authority and working for 12 to 14 hours a day including
on Sundays and holidays without even the facility of casual leave, joining time
etc. Their anger was at being maltreated despite the deplorable working
conditions they were subjected to.
The Banking transactions came to a standstill. Government treasury
work came to a screeching halt. The doors of clearing houses were closed. The
entire country, nay, the entire world was watching the rare action of the
managerial class with dismay and disbelief. Dismay because the lifeline of
economic activity was broken; Disbelief at the first-ever managerial class
strike that was unheard of in the annals of the trade union history anywhere on
Finally, better senses prevailed on the powers that be in the Bank.
The suspensions were lifted and the strike was called off. The entire Nation
breathed a sigh of relief. All this took 17 long days.
The path breaking historical strike by the State Bank Officers’
inspired and enthused officers in other organisations, elsewhere too.
Association of Officers were formed in almost all sectors against exploitations
and to secure better working conditions.
4. EMERGERNCE OF STRONGER FEDERATION
The Associations of four circles of State Bank of India
Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi and Madras
federated to form the ‘ALL INDIA
STATE BANK SUPERVISING STAFF FEDERATION
, which is presently named as ‘ALL
INDIA STATE BANK OFFICERS’ FEDERATION
’. Shri S.R.Mohandas
, a leading
Industrial Relations Consultant had been the Friend, Philosopher and Guide
during this formation. The First Annual General Conference of the Federation was
inaugurated by Shri Shanthilal Shah
, Minister of Government of
on the 27th August 1965 with Sarvashri S.K.
President and General Secretary
respectively. The Federation is
apolitical and independent trade union led by serving bank officers only.
Thereafter, all the Circle Association have joined the Federation.
After this consolidation at the apex level, the Federation and the
Associations slowly started exerting pressure on the management, first for
recognition as the sole bargaining agent and for establishing bilateral
relationship. Even though the supervisory and the managerial employees were
specifically excluded from the Labour Law by the Government, the officers of the
bank used all ingenuities to secure recognition for this group of professional
workers, through a series of organisational actions like removal of ties, work
to rule, mass casual leave and many other forms of agitation. The Management
also let loose terror and victimisation in the form of transfers, suspensions
and charge sheets.
Despite stiff efforts from the top management to demoralise
officers, the Associations/Federation established themselves after the historic
17 days of total strike of 1969. The State Bank officers’
strike in 1969
was a shot in the arm of managerial and professional employees’ movement in
India and all over the world.
5. EMERGENCE OF ALL INDIA BANK OFFICERS’ CONFEDERATION
Acknowledging the need for unity of purpose, an apolitical conduct
and a confederative strength, the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation came in
to being. I must proudly mention that the AIBOC took birth in 1985 in our city.
It was soon recognised by both the Government of India and Indian Bank
as a dominant bargaining agency for bank officers. The officers' movement is
marching ahead, ever since.
The heroic struggle of 1969, the significant event in the history of
Officers' Trade Union movement, was largely responsible for kindling the
militancy of our members which in turn broke loose the yoke of unilateralism in
the industrial relations machinery of the banking industry. Subsequent struggles
achieved chiefly the following:
- Recognition of Federation/Association as sole bargaining agent.
- Formulation of Central/Circle/Regional Negotiation Councils, Industrial
Relations Councils, Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures, Structured Fora etc.,
- Abolition of grades in Head Cashiers; Removal of vicarious responsibility of
payment of guarantee insurance by Head Cashiers.
- Representation on the Central Board of the Bank.
- Discontinuation of contribution to Pension Fund by members and Introduction of
Family Pension Scheme.
- Improvements in Superannuation benefits.
- Grade merger and automatic movement in time scale up to MMGSIII
- Introduction of fair placement policy.
- Right to defend a colleague following the Principles of Natural Justice.
- Re-defining of leave rules/improvement in working hours.
- Leave/Home Travel Concession and Leave Encashment facilities.
- Medical Aid facilities to dependents.
- Index linked D.A.
- Leased Accommodation facility/Economic Rent to all officers, including
Probationary/ Trainee Officers; and for officers posted at Difficult Centres/
The gains of the movement have to be further consolidated. The
struggles are not over. A number of attempts are being made to destabilise the
Officers’ Trade Union Movement both by the political parties and the Government.
Let us strive for further strengthening of our unity and march on to a new era
of patriotic and responsible Trade Union Movement for the welfare of ourselves
and the society. We have several tasks ahead of us. Several issue like scrapping
of obnoxious clause of 19(3) from Service Rules, restoration of conveyance
reimbursement to pre-gulf war levels, Review of Systems & Procedures on
Disciplinary Proceedings keeping in view the changes in the environment etc. are
eluding solutions. Similarly, stubborn attitude of the IBA and Government on
wage revision is driving us to agitational path once again. History shall be
re-written to show our unity and strength