(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 23, 2008
ALL sections of the RBI staff, from senior grade officers to attendants, will go on Mass Casual Leave on December 1 and 2, in protest against the huge reduction effected in the pension of RBI retirees. They are demanding the restoration of the earlier levels and immediate resolution of other superannuation related issues
A similar action by the RBI staff had taken place on October 21, 2008, totally paralysing the RBI all over the country.
Much against their wishes, these actions have been thrust on RBI employees and officers. In 2003, the RBI central board revised the pension of pre-November 1997 RBI retirees with effect from November 2002 by notionally updating their basic pension in alignment with the basic pay prevalent as on November 1, 1997. This was done in sync with the revision of pension of central government employees following the fourth central pay commission recommendations, as also to rationalise the pension of retirees of different time periods from January 1, 1986, with different basic pensions and dearness relief following periodic wage revision of employees.
One notes that it was from January 1, 1986 that pension in lieu of contributory provident fund became operational in the RBI.
After six long years, this revision or updating of pension has suddenly been withdrawn from October 2008, subjecting the RBI retirees, mostly in their late seventies, to a monthly loss ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5500, the impact of which can be well understood.
The government of India forced the RBI management to act like this and thereby plunge RBI in a prolonged turmoil on a puerile ground that RBI did not seek their prior approval though they themselves are periodically revising upward the pension of their own retirees. It requires mention that (1) periodic updating of pension was a commitment of RBI while introducing pension scheme in the bank, (2) RBI pension fund is self- sustaining without any contribution from the government, and the (3) fifth central pay commission clearly states that autonomous institutions like the RBI may have their own pension scheme.
On September 7, 2006, former RBI governor, Dr Y V Reddy assured the United Forum of RBI Unions that the bank would persuade the government to retain the pension updating, in response to which the RBI staff then withdrew their agitation. Most unfortunately, however, RBI employees and United Forum were kept in the dark all through, and now the revision stand withdrawn.
The United Forum repeatedly requested the governor, Dr D Subba Rao, to keep the withdrawal in abeyance, and discuss and amicably sort out the issue as the external crisis situation demanded an absolute normalcy in the central bank of the country. But, most unfortunately, these requests were turned down. The RBI remained unresponsive even after cent per cent participation of all RBI staff in the mass casual leave on October 21, 2008.
There is, therefore, no alternative but to escalate the agitation to protect the RBI retirees. The RBI unions have now appealed to all concerned to prevail upon the government and RBI to make them see reason and not aggravate the situation.
The decision to go on mass casual leave was conveyed to the media in a joint press statement issued from Kolkata on November 18. Signatories to the statement were Samir Ghosh (general secretary, All India Reserve Bank Employees Association, AIRBEA), Vivek Srivastava (general secretary, RBI Officers Association, RBIOA), C M Paulsil (general secretary, All India Reserve Bank Officers Association, AIRBOA) and S V Mahadik (general secretary, All India Reserve Bank Workers Federation, AIRBWF). (INN)