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PRELUDE:

Those who forget the history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately most of the YOUNG GENERATION OFFICERS are not aware of the history of trade unionism in Andhra Bank, where the question of forgetting the history does not arise in the case of ignorant. Therefore, an effort is made to place the facts OF HISTORY OF ANDHRA BANK OFFICERS’ UNION IN BRIEF FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUNG OFFICERS WHO ARE THE FUTURE OF ANDHRA BANK. The present scenario of trade union movement in our Bank is reminiscent of the situation prior to formation of ABOU and post 1972 agitation in Andhra Bank. The reasons are not far to seek as set out in the unfolding history below.

GENESIS OF TRADE UNION MOMENT IN OUR BANK:

Though Andhra Bank was established in the year 1923 by the great freedom fighter and first president of AICC - Dr.Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramaiah, the necessity for a Union was felt for the first time in the Bank during 1940s. The Union survived against all odds with formidable courage and commitment of the members as well as the leaders alike. There were many challenges, thrown by the Management, but, the leaders were stubborn and never looked back, as such were the confidence reposed by the members in the leadership. They braved many an attack from the Management and ultimately emerged as a force to reckon with, when the leadership of the employees was the sole guiding force even to the officers under the leadership of late Com.D.Krishna Murthy. The management all along was trying its best to drive a wedge between officers and award staff to perpetuate the exploitation of officers.

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INDEFINITE STRIKE BY OFFICERS AND AWARD STAFF:

As a consequence, in the year 1972, a situation has emerged due to the heart burn of the entire workforce and ground-swell of support of both officers and award staff that culminated in the historic strike of 63 days unheard of in the Indian Banking history. The agitation was based on a principle of having a common union for both officers and award staff to further the interests of both. The agitation never demanded any financial benefit but self respect and honorable working conditions to be ensured by an all cadre union. And in the process both the officers and award staff have lost their wages for more than two months on the newly invoked principle of “NO WORK NO PAY”. This commitment and the consequential loss sustained by the officers and workmen reflect the personification of sacrifice of members and the leaders alike at that time. A few people say that the 1972 strike is a failure in Andhra Bank. But it was not. The strike highlighted the nature of exploitation of bank Officers by the private Managements of Banks which caught the imagination of the central government also. The Management of Andhra bank though ensured defeating the main objective of the strike, i.e., forming of all cadre union ,saw reason to provide some relief to the officers toiling without any regulated office hours and immediately granted interim relief.

THE RISE AND FALL OF A STOOGE ORGANIZATION:

In the midst of the agitation, the Management formed a Union by name ‘Andhra Bank Officer Staff Association’, only to break the agitation. The leadership of the said Association truly acted as per the wishes of the Management and surrendered the interests of the Officer community. The working culture of the said officer staff association can be well understood by the fact that it’s leadership used to request the management to hold back its unilateral decisions of extending any benefits to the officers , till they issued a circular claiming them as its achievements. They created a scare among officers, that they have to serve but not to revolt even against the worst suppression. After 9 long years of silent sufferings, the officers revolted against the leadership in the General Body held in the year 1980 and the leadership was then changed but with no consequence as it failed in the following years to get the grievances redressed. The wage revision for officers, consequent to the wage revision given to Award Staff in September, 1978 was allowed to continue as a pipe dream. When the Management was ready to give some promotions in 1981 to officers, the Officer Staff Association wrote to Management not to give promotions until full Board was constituted. Though the Government decided to implement the Pillai Committee Recommendations, the Bank has not initiated any steps to adopt the same for the officers in our Bank. (Pillai Committee was constituted by the Government of India for studying the wage structure of officers in Banking Industry and to recommend suitable wages by rationalizing the wage structure of officers in the public sector Banks).

At that part of time, AIBEA a monolithic organization representing officers & workmen thought that a separate organization for officers supported by AIBEA was the necessity of time to fight against the anomalies in Pillai Committee Recommendations in order to meet the aspirations of the officers to get reasonable wages in tune with the risk and responsibility. Accordingly the All India Bank Offices` Association AIBOA took its birth in 1981. Even in our Bank the officers with agitated minds in respect of PCR decided to form Andhra Bank Officers` Association (ABOA) affiliated to AIBOA. But unforgotten the impact of 1972 Strike, the management took overnight steps to see that the organization shall not take off. Naturally, the officers` psychology being volatile to management actions, the foundation conference of ABOA even thou held in 1981 held at Vijayawada did not success due to the pressures mounted by the management and ABOSA combine.

However in the later part of 1982, the Management and the Officer staff Association and its parent organization AICOBOO (which is now AIBOC) totally failed to take any steps to protect the interests of the Officers, in removing the anomalies arising out of implementation of PCR in our Bank, While thrusting Andhra Bank (Officers) Service Regulations 1982 with inherent anomalies and blatant injustices and career damage to the Officers of the Bank. The officers were very angry for being betrayed by their own leaders and decided to overthrow them in the General Body conducted on 27.02.1983 at Vijayawada. Sensing this, the stooge leadership has withdrawn the minute book and did not hold the elections as per the agenda. However, a circular was surreptitiously released, claiming that the same old stooges were elected as principal office bearers in the General Body. The irate members faced a piquant situation of confronting the same humiliation, at the hands of Management and leadership combine.

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BIRTH OF A MUCH-NEEDED TRADE UNION (ABOU):

In this background, some of the officers assembled at Hyderabad on 28.02.1983 and discussed the situation and got convinced that if the officers of the Bank were to have really a meaningful organization worth its name, they have no alternative but to start a new organization. Thus on that day itself seeds were sown for the Andhra Bank Officers’ Union (ABOU).

The motive for starting the new Union for the Officers of the Bank was not to create a rival organization for the existing one, but was the only solution available to delink from the puppet Association which was hand in glove with the Management for over a decade. But, even then starting an organization cannot be decided by a handful of Officers. Hence, it was decided that unless 1600 officers (majority number of the then officer strength) of the Bank join the union thereby giving a clear majority within a specified time, the Union will not be continued. Thus a deadline was setup and within the stipulated time 1672 officers joined the Union and thus its continuance was voted for. As per the open undertaking given to the officers, an Extra Ordinary General Body meeting of the Union was held at Guntur on 01.05.1983 and a full-fledged Executive Committee of the Union was elected democratically.

Thus, ABOU as an affiliate of INBOC/INTUC has started its journey in the year 1983 with a motto to protect the officer community from the menace of suppressive and oppressive policies of the Management and create a unified force. This Union has got a great history replete with a host of achievements unique in the banking industry. Establishing bipartite mechanism for officers of our bank on a regular basis both at central and zonal levels remains a mile-stone even today. During these long years of unionism, the leaders have seen success, struggle, turmoil, humility and many ups and downs.

While the confidence of the members was being instilled on the Union, it got recognition on 15.10.1985 by the management as per the orders of Hon. High Court of AP Dt.12.6.1984 and as per the recommendations of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), New Delhi Dt.7.10.1985.

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    'PRABHAT' 401,
    4th Floor, Taramandal Complex,
    Saifabad, Hyderabad-500 004
    Phone : 040 2324 2244
    E-mail : abou.2005@gmail.com