To all Units, Affiliates, Office Bearers, CC & GC Members Dear Comrade, Implementation of Advisories in Banking Services during Covid-19 pandemic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
TEXT OF THE LETTER TO THE SECRETARY, FINANCIAL SERVICES QUOTE The entire nation is passing through third phase of National Lockdown. The spread of Covid-19 pandemic in our country is in alarming state with number of persons, both infected and dead, are on the rise with sizable areas in Red and Containment zones. The bank employees of the country is rendering service in this precarious condition for the last 44 days and counting. Quite a good number of bank employees, all over the country, have been found infected with the deadly virus with one of them succumbed to death at Mumbai.
e are constrained to note that most of the precautionary measures and advisories issued by different Departments of Govt. of India and the Indian Banks' Association (IBA), to halt spread of the virus by ‘breaking the chain’, were not implemented. Despite our taking up the issues with DFS; IBA and Hon'ble Ministers, the situation did not change much, due to which the bank employees had to perform their duties in vulnerable condition. We have observed that many of these advisories mainly remained in paper as the concerned authorities were reluctant to follow the same. This attitude of indifference increased vulnerability of the bank employees working in the field. As the whole country is in a crucial stage, we strongly feel that it is the high time to initiate strict measure from your end to implement the advisories in letter and spirit. The bank employees are committed to serve the nation and its people under any circumstances, which have been proven time and again. We are equally committed to the well being of bank employees; customers and their family members. In view of this, we would like to draw your attention to the following measures which require to be followed with utmost seriousness and sincerity. 1. The IBA issued a communication to the MDs/Chief Executives of Members banks in regard to Covid-19- Precautionary Measures post Lock Down and Resumption of all banking activities (Ref No. CE/DRS/IBA/2020/8895 dated 28.04.2020). While appreciating the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of IBA, we expected that Safety and Security Procedures at Branches/Offices as mentioned in the Annexure of the communiqué, particularly Branch/Office area disinfection; Sanitization and Upkeep of Workplace; Sanitization at entry to workplaces will be meticulously followed at the Branches/Offices. Though another advisory was issued by the IBA in the month of March but the same was mostly ignored at the Branch/Office level and we did not observe any monitoring for its implementation. We suggest for adopting a mechanism at the intervention of Department of Financial Services (DFS) for strict adherence of IBA communiqué in totality. 2. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has issued an Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 1st May 2020 with new guidelines to be followed in regard to Covid-19 with effect from 04.05.2020. In the said guideline, Point No. 3 dealt with Identification of Containment Zones and activities within these Zones. In Point No. 3 (V) it is mentioned, “In these Containment Zones, within Red (Hotspots) and Orange Zones, where maximum precaution is required, there shall be strict perimeter control to ensure that there is no movement of population or out of these zones except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential goods and services. The guidelines issued by MoHFW will be strictly implemented by State/UT Governments and the local district authorities”. But we observed at Bank employees residing within Containment Zones are compelled to go out and come in for attending their places of posting outside the Containment Zones in absence of specific guideline in this regard from the bank managements. Such employees put their health as well as other colleagues; customers; family members into high risk. We also came across of employees from outside coming into Containment Zone as the authorities took much time to take decision whether a particular Branch/office in Containment zone would function or not. Many Branches Offices were kept open in Containment Zones all through. We strongly feel that specific communication should be issued in regard to Operations of Banking Services and movements of employees in Containment Zones in line with guidelines issued by MHA and MoHFW, Government of India. We suggest that Banking Services should be kept on hold in Containment Zones till further review of Zones. 3. The aforesaid IBA SOP during post Lockdown period had issued advice on Travel Arrangement to workplace where it has been stated, “To the extent possible, employees should be encouraged to use their personal vehicles for commuting to work place. Carpools or public transport to be avoided. Banks may devise strategies for arranging Bus transportation for employees in key areas of the city. This may include tie-ups with the aggregators, or engage the services of their own customers who are in this sector". Though this advice is applicable to a section of employees who are working in cities only, but serious persuasion with the respective bank management requires to be done for its implementation as we didn’t observe any initiative taken by bank managements to facilitate commutation of the employees to their workplaces and back during the ongoing Lockdown. 4. Given public transport suspended during Lockdown period, many bank employees could not attend duties despite their utmost efforts. Except very few instances, the bank managements did not arrange transport for the employees in general. We are observing, to our utter dismay, that bank managements are now putting pressure on the employees to apply leave from their quota. We are informed that, in some occasions, wages have been deducted for absence during this period. Both deduction of leave and wages are being done in gross violation of instruction issued on 20.03.2020 by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India where it was mentioned that, “If any worker takes leave, he should be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period.” While violating this guideline, many of the bank managements aren’t sparing the pregnant and employees with physical disabilities. Different Banks are treating the absence in different ways as per their whims without taking the industry level Federations into confidence which is also violating principles of collective bargaining as Leave is a matter discussed and decided during Bipartite Settlements between the IBA and negotiating Unions/Associations. The banks are issuing circulars with classifications of leaves s per their sweet will disregarding the prevailing situation and the advisories issued by different Departments as per Disaster Management Act 2005. In an unprecedented situation, when half of the population of the universe is under Lockdown, deduction of leave or wages will be gross injustice to the employees. We understand that many contractual and casual workers who could not attend their duties during this period were not paid wages despite instruction issued in this regard. There is no guideline on absence of employees in quarantine. We suggest for issuing common and comprehensive guidelines by the DFS uniformly applicable to all banks across the country in line with instruction of Departments of Labour and Employment and MoHFW. We reiterate our demand that all absence due to withdrawal of public transport during Lockdown period should be treated to be on duty/special leave. 5. We are constrained to note that different bank managements are extending different benefits as well as cash incentives to their employees. Some banks are paying one day wage for attending branch/office for some days while some have extended special insurance schemes to their employees for a specific period. Most of the bank employees are functioning with service conditions and financial benefits governed by industry level settlements which guarantee uniform facilities and treatment. We apprehend that such diverse decisions may create sense of deprivation and insecurity to a large section of employees with possibility of weakening the fight against Covid-19 pandemic together. The country can ill afford any such possibility. While appreciating the benefits offered by some banks to their employees, we sincerely feel that all employees of the banking industry to be extended with same benefits and facilities to create conducive environment in fighting the deadly Novel Corona Virus in our country as one entity. UNQUOTE- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -