Submitted version of letter published in The Hindu Business Line on January 8, 2015(Title: Wage revision is a reality) Letters Wage revision This refers to the report “ Bank strike put off; IBA raises wage revision offer to 12.5 per cent”(January 7). The wage negotiation in banking industry follows a traditional ‘snake and ladder’ pattern. The unions submit a charter of demands incorporating skye-high demands. IBA comes out with an offer practically offering zero-rise in take home salaries. Then both sides continue ‘negotiations’ for a sufficiently long period to ensure substantial payment of arrears (beneficial for union leadership in terms of ‘levy’ chargeable) and skipping two or three accounting years (beneficial for banks, as during this period they can make ‘provisions’ and use interest-free funds in their business in some form). At some politically convenient point of time, a settlement’ gets announced. It is high time, wage revision across industries and sectors(public and private) is accepted as a part of Human Resource Management of individual organisations and done in a scientific and pragmatic way factoring in: (i) Market- related minimum wages depending on skill requirement. (ii) The present day need to include incentive and disincentive in remuneration package and ‘adjusting’ these at much shorter periodicity than 5 years. (iii) Implementing wage revision as soon as possible after the expiry of each wage settlement. (iv) Freedom to individual banks to pay more to attract talent for specialised jobs. (v) Some relationship between the minimum and maximum remuneration in the same organisation. To start with CEO and a couple of top level employees may be kept in an ‘exempted’ category. (vi) The fear of impact of a strike on economy should not be allowed to be used as a weapon by unions. Similarly, employer should not use public indictment of withholding of work, when they face practical problems when employees strike work as a cover for denying what is genuinely due to the staff. (vii) This being the first wage revision after discontinuing defined benefit pension schemes, the load for providing for retired life should be factored in, in the wage structure. M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram


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