The Bank Employees in the country got a rude shock on 13th September, 2020 (Sunday) to get the sad News of passing away of the veteran trade union leader in the Banking Industry, Shri. Subhash Sawant, General Secretary of Indian National Bank Employees’ Federation (Banking wing of INTUC) & General Secretary of All India Central Bank Employees’ Congress. It is the End of an Era of an aggressive/militant unionism in the Banking Industry.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic and declaration of Lockdown he had relentlessly taken up the issue of the safety of staff in Bank Branches, measures to ensure safety of Bank Branches/customers, insurance cover for Bank Employees who become victim of Pandemic, regulation of working hours and strict implementation of SOP ( Standard Operating Procedures) in Banks. Just before his hospitalization for COVID infection he had filed a writ petition in the Hon. High Court at Bombay for the honour of Bank Staff, treating Bank Employees as COVID-Warriors and equal compensation to Bank Employees in case of death (i.e. Rs. 50 lakh in all Banks as provided to Medical and Para-Medical Staff). It is very unfortunate that a Person fighting for providing safeguards against the Pandemic has fallen a victim to it.
Shri. Sawant was a fearless leader in Banks, a real fighter for workers’ interests and democracy. Never the less, he was always concerned about the deteriorating profitability in Banks caused due to NPA Menace and increasing Bad Loans of Corporates. He started the maiden movement against NPAs in Banks by organizing a “ Jan-Jagriti” March in Mumbai to create Public Awareness on Big Ticket NPA Borrowers ( Over Rs. 100 crore), from Churchgate Railway Station to Azad Maidan in November 2014.His movement was appreciated by then RBI Governor, Dr. Rajan. It was another thing that this movement was not appreciated by the management of Central Bank of India and he was made to face several Departmental Inquiries with the intention of stopping his Pension. His activists were also harassed and punished under different pretext. But he was undeterred and continued his fight in Courts for over five years. He had filed a Writ Petition in Hon. High Court at Bombay to fix the accountability of Banks’ MDs/CEOs/EDs for growing NPAs in Banks, as he thought it was the main cause for NPA menace. He filed a PIL for disclosure of NPA Borrowers’ list also. He had organized a DHARNA before Parliament on NPA issue. He stopped the discriminatory Campus Recruitment in Banks through Court cases. Whenever he failed to get justice he approached courts without fear.
He was an Honest, very kind hearted man always ready to provide any type of help to Bank Staff throughout the country. He was called as University on Labour as he was well versed in various Labour Laws and could suggest for solution on any problem/issue within a minute. He will be best remembered by Bank Employees for his dedicated fight for the Second Pension Option. He played very important role in getting Second Pension Option to Bank Employees and lakhs of Bank Employees were benefited from it. The Service Conditions and Wage Revision agreements for Bank Employees are taking place in Banks between Indian Banks Association (IBA) & United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU). Sawant’s union, INBEF, was a small union amongst the nine constituents of UFBU, however the role played by Subhash Sawant during the Last thirty years and 7 Bipartite Agreements was very aggressive. The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) for the XIth Bipartite Settlement was reached on 22th July, 2020 and Sawant had reservations to this MOU which he has circulated to Bank Employees. After his death it is doubtful now, whether his points will be considered by UFBU at the time of signing the final agreement. He had published a Booklet viz. “Voice of INBEF” describing the course of Wage Revision Agreements in Banks, mistakes/errors committed by UFBU and expectations of Bank Employees from the ensuing XIth Bipartite Settlement.
He had made a comparative study of wages in Banks vis-à-vis in Government Service and other PSUs and his endeavour was to achieve respectable salary for Bank Employees in comparison to Government Employees. Hope his unfulfilled dreams get fulfilled by unions in Banks.
The Bank Employees have lost a dedicated and honest leader aggressively fighting for their cause throughout his life.
– Ashok M. Rane, Chairman, Central Bank Officers’ Congress, Mumbai
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