SBI plans a raw deal for employees of associate banks

The merger of State Bank of India (SBI) with its associates, which SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya hailed as a win-win for all will end up a losing proposition for employees and the exchequer.

Employees of associate banks who are opposed to the merger, have been asked to decide to accept a new job with State Bank of India or opt for voluntary retirement within 15 days, say reports.

SBI has prepared an 'option letter' that will be given to employees as part of the merger of India's largest bank with its four associates, according to the report.

As it turns out, the biggest gainers will be corporate borrowers who together owe lakhs of crores of rupees to these banks, against which employees have been protesting.

The terms and conditions regarding employees and their salaries also mention that these employees will get compensation that will be 'no less favorable' than what they were getting in their existing jobs prior to the transfer to the SBI.

'' the pay and allowance offered to the employees and officers.. shall not be less favourable, overall, as compared to what they would have drawn in the (associate) Bank,'' the merger agreement says.

''The permanent and regular officers and/or employees of the (associate) bank shall be given an offer of employment in writing (Option Letter) by SBI after the issuance of the Section 35 Order.

''Where an officer or other employee of the Transferor Bank does not exercise any option, within a period of 15 days from the date of the Option Letter given for exercising the option, to be in the employment of the SBI, such officer or employee shall be deemed to have accepted to continue in the service of the SBI,''

The transfer will cover ''every permanent and regular officer or other permanent and regular employee and officers and employees on probation'' serving in the associate bank, the merger deal said.

It will, however, not involve the board of directors and executive trustees, who are unlikely to be absorbed into the SBI.

The merger deal also said that employees will not be able to challenge their compensation in any court of law or panel.

''Notwithstanding anything contained in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 or in any other law for the time being in force, the transfer of the services of any officers or other employees of the Transferor Bank to the Transferee Bank shall not entitle to such officers or other employees to any compensation under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 or any other law for the time being in force and no such claim shall be entertained by any court, tribunal or any other authority,'' it said.

''The officers or other employees who have retired before the effective date.. or opted not to join in the service of the SBI.. and entitled to any benefits, rights or privileges from the associate bank shall be entitled to receive such benefits, rights or privileges from the SBI. Provided that any officers or employees of the Transferor Bank who opt not to join the service of the Transferee Bank on and from the Effective Date shall not be entitled to notice or compensation, whether for retrenchment or otherwise including for loss of office or employment or premature termination of his or her contract of employment with the associate bank.''

The chairman, the Trustees, Executive Trustees or any other person entitled to manage the whole or substantial part of the business and the affairs of the Transferor Bank shall not be entitled to any compensation for the loss of office or for the premature termination of any contract of employment, the merger deal added.