Stata Bank of India’s mega merger with its associate banks, announced on April 1 this year, has been anything but smooth for some of the latter’s employees.
Officers and clerks working for the erstwhile associate banks feel they have been given a raw deal with several instances of arbitrary transfers and many officers losing out on their seniority post the transfer.
“We are being treated as second-class citizens at SBI. The management has not been hearing the issues being raised by us. We are hopeful of a solution with the management without having to go to the courts,” said KS Krishna, former General Secretary, State Bank of Travancore Employees Union.
The Associate Bank Officer’s Association (ABOA), Hyderabad unit, had moved the court in April this year highlighting issues related to PF, allowances, increments, and rate of interest benefit (staff loans) not being extended to associate bank employees.
The association also flagged lack of clarity on service conditions such as seniority of officers post merger.
A senior official of the association said the employees are facing increased working hours as the servers at SBI are unable to handle the traffic, and they (the staff) are still adjusting to the new working conditions.
The Hyderabad High Court, in its interim order dated April 10, 2017, had directed State Bank of India not to finalise options available to the employees till June 15.
Aggrieved, SBI had filed a counter petition arguing that it was strictly complying with all the stipulations and safeguarding the interests of the employees of the associate banks and denied all allegations.
In its hearing on June 15, the judge took these submissions into consideration and vacated the interim order granted earlier.
While disposing of the case, the judge granted liberty to the officers and staff of the associate banks to have consultations with the SBI and gave a three-month deadline to sort the issue amicably. Going by the developments, it seems there has been no headway.
Speaking to BusinessLine, many employees of the former associate banks have expressed disappointment over the treatment they have faced during the initial phases of this mega merger.
There have been several instances of arbitrary transfers with allegations that SBI has not been following the rules governing transfers.
A circular, dated May 18, 2017, distributed by the All India State Bank Officers Association mentions that SBI employees were intimidating associate bank staffers with transfers if they joined a particular union.
“Since the merger, several of the associate bank employees above the Scale 4 grade have lost out on their seniority when compared to their peers at SBI,” said an officer on conditions of anonymity.
“If SBI is going to promote its own officers at the cost of the associate bank employees, I see no reason for me to continue working in the bank as there would be no career growth,” said a Scale 5 officer who was not considered for a promotion despite being due for one this year.
The Kerala government has been exerting pressure on the Centre to address the issues arising out of the merger of State Bank of Travancore with SBI.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while replying to a submission to the Assembly, said: “Post-merger, SBI is preparing to close down 300 branches across Kerala while the employees are being indiscriminately transferred. For customers, it has resulted in a hike in service charges.” He added, “It is widely feared that SBI would adopt corporate-friendly policies that go against the interests of the larger public.”