Intro: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh affiliate National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) completed 50 years on February 5. It is the journey, which not only liberated the bank workers from the influence of communists and vote hungry Congress, but also encouraged them to first think for the nation and then individual interests.
Formed five decades ago, to be precisely on February 5, 1965 in Nagpur, the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) has given a new vision to the bank employees’ movement of the country. Fifty years ago it was largely under the influence of the communists and their selfish agenda, but now nation is first for them. They have played a key role in bank reforms also and supported the required changes in the system. By and large the journey has been full of upheavals, events, sacrifice and dedication as well as some milestones in the banking sector.
Before the formation of NOBW, the bank employees were largely united under the banner of left controlled All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA). There was another platform which was controlled by the INTUC. Many of the present NOBW workers were basically working with the AIBEA in the hope that unity is essential to workers’ cause. But by the persistent experience they found that the lure of unity was only a slogan given by the politicians to exploit them for their political ends and they were not honest to the Banking Industry and its employees. After 1962 China Aggression, when the Communists in India openly called that “Liberation Army” (Mukti Sena), the nationalist Bank employees strongly opposed it. From that point they started thinking over the formation of a nationalist trade union in bank sector. In the AIBEA Conference held immediately after China aggression at Calcutta, the nationalist bank employees moved a resolution against the China Aggression, but the Communists opposed the resolution and openly supported the China aggression stating that ‘communist countries never attack on others, they only send their
It was height of anti-national agenda. After that the nationalist bank employees sat together and formed the National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) on February 5, 1965. Shri BG Gaur from Reserve Bank of India was made first general secretary. After some time a number of bank unions and state federations were affiliated to it. NOBW then resolved to affiliate with Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) at Ajmer Conference on May 2, 1969. Shri AM Puranik from Canara Bank was elected general secretary, Shri GS Gokhale as president and Shri Chaman Lal Bhardwaj of Punjab National Bank as vice president.
To face the majority unions, challenge them on policy issues, growth in the membership, sustaining malafide attacks on the activists was a herculean task and can only be compared with the spirit of warriors who have been committed to their aims, principles and to preserve the values risking their life. Yet, the handful activists stood bravely against all such onslaughts and marched forward relentlessly to make NOBW as a trustworthy and reckoning force in the banking fraternity. Sacrifices and dedication of those activists have now reaped rich dividends. In fact the greetings of the Foundation Day would remain incomplete, if they are not saluted.
|And the fight continues…
Since inception the NOBW always focused on the interest of nation, industry and the workmen. On many occasions, the NOBW played a key role to protect the interest of the workmen. IBA signed a settlement with the AIBEA/NCBE on September 8, 1983 for mechanisation. Looking at far reaching implication of the provisions of Settlement, NOBW chose to stay away from it even at the cost of not inviting by IBA for Bi-partite Settlements. And for consecutive 14 years, NOBW suffered this loss for only the sake of interest of the workmen and industry. Now we see that the mechanisation has become so rampant that despite tremendous increase in number of branches and workload of the banks, the working staff is much reduced in proportion. This is a pseudo retrenchment in conformity to the much hyped banking reforms.
In the formation of United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) in the year 1997, NOBW was cohesive factor to forge the unity amongst all trade unions in the banking industry. ‘Wage Freeze’ threat to UCO Bank employees prompted to the creation of UFBU. For keeping the banking fraternity intact, NOBW endeavoured and was successful to keep at bay the differences of working style and principles.
NOBW pointed out 11 anomalies in the 2nd Bi-partite Settlement and started agitations all over country, which forced the negotiating unions to back out from their own signed settlement and to rephrase it afresh. Similarly, NOBW succeeded in setting aside the tampering DA formula, which was agreed by majority unions, in the year 1978 at the time of 3rd Bipartite Settlement.
One glaring example of empathy of NOBW with workmen that it refused to sign the 7the Bi-partite Settlement on March 27, 2002 on the issue that arrears of the Settlement were not disbursed to 3 weak banks at par with other banks, while all other unions gladly stamped their seal. Only after the disbursement of arrears to those weak bank employees, NOBW signed the settlement on August 9, 2002.
NOBW was the only organisation, which stood firm by the side of One More Pension Option to the deprived bank employees. All other unions had despatched this vital issue to cold storage on the pretext that those who have missed the bus be not granted another opportunity. The struggle espoused by only and only NOBW for more than a decade brought cheers to such deprived employees, when one more pension option was granted to bank employees. The credit without any doubt belongs to the NOBW which pursued the demand spiritedly.
Now at the time of 10th Bi-partite Settlement, NOBW has been trying for a better deal to the bank employees so that they get honourable wage rise. NOBW has been keenly interested to launch ferocious agitation to secure the demand. However, consensus could not be reached amongst the factors of UFBU and NOBW compelled to contend so that unity of UBFU should not be splintered. NOBW still has not abandoned its efforts and shall continue to fight to remove any injustice to the workmen.
For betterment in the Hospitalisation Scheme in the light of spirally high medical expenses, the NOBW mooted the idea of improved Scheme on the lines of Central Government, where maximum benefit of best medical treatment should be available to the bank employees in case of dire need and some life threatening diseases. The proposal is under discussion between IBA & UFBU. These are only few examples to exhibit NOBW's struggle, sacrifice and achievements to protect the interest of the nation, industry and the workmen simultaneously. As an affiliate of BMS, the NOBW strongly believes to keep the national interest foremost then industry and then the workmen. Ashwani Rana