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20 Oct 2020, Edition - 1925, Tuesday

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GM’s of nationalised banks drawing less pension than their subordinates, struggling to meet ends: “Is this a welfare scheme?”

Indrani Thakurata

No place for bank pensioners

When a retired GM of a public sector bank finds it hard to pay his medical bills, maintain a lifestyle that he is used to; you know that the state has failed him. And this isn’t just a solitary story; many bank pensioners are echoing it. Dr L.S Raman, retired as the GM of a PSB angrily highlights the plight of retired bank officers. “Everywhere they say pensioners are priority. It is a welfare scheme, it is not a bounty, it is an earned income. It is a property guaranteed in the constitution. But the reality is that in today’s day and age, especially bankers who retired before 2002 are struggling to meet their medical bills, get treated and live a dignified life. The country is causing a handful of senior citizens who have served the nation a lot of grief. The anomaly and discrimination in DA has led to a situation where the GM who retired before 2002 and a clerical staff who has retired now are drawing the same pension. Infact, the GM is drawing less. Adding, “The pensioners who retired before 2002, a GM is getting a meagre DA of .06%, of pay in excess of 6010 and a scale 3 officer is getting DA allowance @ 290%.”

Elaborating on the same and putting it in perspective, Rohini Rao, a Retired Banker’s grievance post on facebook caught many eyeballs, but not of the authority she intentioned it for. And sadly, that’s the plight of these bank pensioners, who are trying to fight for justice, which is hard to come by. Hollow promises and failed rhetoric have resulted in giving them a tough old age life. “10 lakh Bankers since Nationalization of Banks, i.e. 1969 have contributed enormously for growth of Indian economy. There is no one who has not utilized bank services. Friends we have become ‘ill paid’ salaried class today. We the retirees of PSB’s who contributed to your growth have ‘pathetic pension scheme’. We are duped by IBA and GOI by not sanctioning our legitimate pension and not revising it at par with Central Government Pension Scheme as agreed while introducing Pension in 1994,” her post reads. She further writes, “Due to above discrimination by govt., today we the retired bank men are fighting in courts from past 20 years for our rights. We are going to launch agitations at this age. Shri Balakrishna Iyer, an intelligent and honest Top Executive of his days, retired in 1994 as Managing Director of State Bank of Hyderabad. He draws pension of around Rs.20,000/- . I having retired after serving SBH for 40 years and draw around Rs.30,000/-. I retired from GHMC br., Hyd. We used to disburse pensions to all Ghmc retirees. A newly retired ‘ street sweeper’ gets Rs 20000/- plus as her/his pension. This is where we bankers stand as pensioners. Is street sweeper services bigger and important than my retired Managing Director? Or my services having slogged for 7 hours on regular days and 10 hours while doing government thrusted schemes launching?”

Simplifying it further for us, N.Sankara Subramanian, who retired from a PSB as a Senior Manager says, “Pension drawn by Bank Pensioners is low compared to Govt. Servants. In the case of Bank Pensioners who retired prior to 01/11/2002, the compensation for general rise in prices (DA) is extended at a lower rate than the rate of compensation allowed to pensioners who retired on or after 01/11/2002.This lower rate of compensation add to their misery. These pre Nov.2002 retirees have been fighting for justice since 2006. Supreme Court of India which heard their case and reserved the judgment on 01/08/2017 is yet to pronounce its judgment.” Completely frustrated with the condition, Dr Binay Das and Ajit Kumar Maiti of SBI and UCO Bank are of the opinion that the corrupt apex serving employees union leaders had joined hands with IBA to not representing their cause nor were they allowing Retiree unions to negotiate with the IBA. But as they say, patience pays; even in this case, it might pay. “In the last few days, there have been some some positive development; IBA has agreed after winning by petitioners in SC , to release notional Benefit max upto 5 years to specialist recruited officers, to also refix basic pension of those officers who retired from 1998 to 2002 in seventh Bipartite Settlement to 50% of Basic Pay as per pension regulation act and finally such persons will get difference of arrears from date of retirement between this said range. Thus, one can hope that the anomalies will be removed. But till it happens, this is what it is,” concludes Maiti.

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A point by point explanation of the case by N.Sankara Subramanian who is also a lawyer.

1)Pension paid to Bank Pensioners is low when compared with the pension paid to Govt. Employees. This is due to the fact that the Basic Pension of Govt. Pensioners is revised periodically along with implementation of Pay commission recommendations.

2)Dearness allowance is given to employees to compensate for general rise in prices. The amount of Dearness Allowance (DA) depends on the general price level. When the General Price level increase DA also increases and vice versa.

3)Up to 01/05/2005 all Bank Pensioners were drawing a uniform rate of DA. Full compensation (100% neutralisation of price rise) for price rise was extended for Basic Pension up to a certain level only and for the Balance basic pension, the rate of compensation is less than 100%. Basic Pension was divided into different slabs. First slab receive 100% compensation. Next slab get less than 100% and the compensation for the third slab will be lesser than the compensation for the second slab of basic pension and so on. In the 8th Bipartite Settlement entered into between banks on the one side and Unions/ Associations on the other side, it was agreed to give full compensation for price rise for the entire Basic Pay of employees. However this increase in DA was extended only to serving employees and to pensioners who retired on or after 01/11/2002. Pensioners who retired prior to 01/11/2002 were denied the increased DA and they continue to get less than 100% compensation for general price rise. This is the issue to be highlighted. Increase in prices affects all pensioners regardless of their date of retirement. Thus all the pensioners should be given relief at uniform rate. Pensioners who retired prior to 01/11/2002 get lower rate of DA while pensioners who retired on or after 01/11/2002 get higher rate of DA.

4)Affected pensioners are fighting the legal battle since 2006. Supreme Court of India Reserved the Judgment on 01/08/2017. (After hearing all the parties to the dispute, Court reserves the Judgment where the points raised by the parties to the suit are complicated and requires in depth analysis. Generally in such cases judgment is pronounced within 6 months.)

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