The officers' movement in Corporation Bank completed 40 years in January 2013. Corporation Bank Officers' Organization spear-headed this movement. It has been a long journey marked by ups and downs, trials and tribulations, struggles and sacrifices, setbacks and success and many a number of achievements. The movement started in 1973, when the officers' working conditions were dismal and a large number of officers who had come from the ranks found themselves without any union to take up their issues collectively. There was no career path for officers; service conditions were not comparable with those in other banks; transfers had no rationale; disciplinary actions were unilateral and irrational. Officers were sandwiched between a militant workmen group and a feudal management.
It was in this background that a group of spirited colleagues joined together and thought of starting a trade union of officers in the Bank. The idea received mixed response. A few like-minded officers joined to sign the Memorandum on 29th October 1972 and formed an Ad-Hoc Committee.
K. Radhakrishna Pai,The first General Secretary in a meeting
P. Devadasa Mallya,The the first President addressing a meeting
M A Singaram Iyengar,Gen.Secretary Speaking - Others R-L P.D.Mallya, K.R.Pai & A.Srinivasan
T.R. Bhat,The then General Secretary
K.Venugopal,The then General Secretary
The following were the signatories to the memorandum
01. P. Devadas Mallya
02. B. Sadananda Shenoy
03. K. Premananda Rao
04. H. Dayananda Prabhu
05. M. Sridhara 06. K. Manjunath Kamath 07. K. Anantha Padmanabha Hegde 08. B.G. Raju 09. K. Narasimha Kamath 10. B. Srinivasa Baliga 11. K. Vaman Pai 12. G. Jayavantha Kumar 13. K. Ramaraya Hegde 14. V.M. Shenoy 15. U. Gopalakrishna Nayak
The committee made the groundwork and the Foundation Conference of Corporation Bank Officers' Organization was held on 26th January 1973 at SrinivasKalyanMantap, Malleswaram, Bangalore.This were laid the foundation stones of CBOO. In this Conference, P. DevadasMallya was elected President and K. RadhakrishnaPai was elected General Secretary.
During the early years, CBOO assumed a low profile with persuasion as the main line of action. Several Joint Meetings were held between the Management and CBOO to improve the service conditions of the officers in the Bank. With a responsive and sympathetic Management, forward movement could be achieved on a few issues.
However, the national emergency between 1975-77 saw repression of CBOO and large-scale victimisation of leaders. The General Secretary was suspended and transferred; Bilateral forum was disbanded and terrorism was let loose in the name of discipline. In 1977, M.A.SingaramIyengar was elected General Secretary; but within a short time he was shifted to Kolkatta causing serious organisational problems.
From 1979 onwards started an organised revival. The Bank's nationalisation in 1980 enabled the Bank to join the mainstream banking and CBOO started asserting its trade union rights and playing its legitimate role. The bilateral forum was revived in 1981. In April, 1984 a formal recognition was accorded to CBOO as sole bargaining agent for officers. Regular Joint Meetings were held. During the last 43 years, over 90 such formal meetings have been held, apart from innumerable informal meetings.
At the organizational front, with effect from April 1981, there was stability in the leadership which enabled the organisation to consolidate. The organisation was led by T.R.Bhat as General Secretary for 12 years from 1981 and afterwards by K.Venugopal as General Secretary for five years till 1998 with T R Bhat taking over as President. During these critical years which saw two serious agitations [1988 and 1996], these leaders were ably advised and supported by highly dedicated office bearers like, late N. Balasubramanian, late C.Sadanandan, Prabhakar P. Suvarna, Late K N Kalyanam and M.Gourangadas. In 1998, D.N.Prakash took over as General Secretary with T.R.Bhat continuing as the President. This period also saw serious IR crisis in 2002. On the issue of VRS leading to one day ALL INDIA STRIKE. Normalcy was restored in 2004 and continued till 2006.
The period between 2006 to 2011 witnessed serious turbulence in the IR scenario in the Bank disturbing peace, normalcy and due recognition to the officers’ interests and to the detriment of Bank’s business also. In 2007, in the midst of very chaotic IR environment, KaushikGhosh became General Secretary; D N Prakash took over as President and T R Bhat mantled the post of (first) Chairman of CBOO (which he continued till his superannuation in December, 2009).
The turmoil started in 2006 with an indifferent Chairman & Managing Director; the next phase (December, 2008 to August, 2010) was an autocratic and self- righteous man in that post with a vindictive administration irresponsive to the workforce in general and officers in particular; the last in this period (September, 2010 to September, 2011) was an attempt to ride over the Bank for selfish goals, shaking the edifice of institutional values inBank. CBOO had to put all energies in its command to ‘Save Corporation Bank’ and fight for values.
POST - 2013
In January, 2013, Ekanath Baliga was elected as General Secretary and D N Prakash continued as President (till his retirement in November, 2015). The next 3 years witnessed the beginning of anerosion in the achievements and status of the Bank as ‘A Premier Government of India Enterprise.’ The treatment to the officers deteriorated and their sentiments were trampled. In the name of Bank’s interests, a few new failed experiments cost the Bank dear. This directly affected the Bank’s performance and the business stagnated. Though marginal strength was infused, the hearty involvement of the workforce in entirety was absent and the damage was telling. The Bank posted loss for the first time in its 111 year’s history.
January, 2016 witnessed another change in the leadership of CBOO. Satish Shetty took over as the General Secretary, with Ekanath Baliga as President.
Trade Union with a Difference:
During the last 43 years, CBOO has given a new direction to the officers' movement in the Bank; achieved better and comparable service conditions and benefits; secured a career path to the officers and brought a sense of belonging among the officers.
CBOO has not only strived to improve the service conditions of the officers, it has involved itself continuously with the development of the Bank. At different forums and through communications the leadership of CBOO has called upon the members to contribute in all possible ways to the growth of the Bank. The members have wholeheartedly responded to the call of the Organization and this has contributed to the significant progress recorded by the Bank in the recent years. The Organization along with the Management of the Bank contributed immensely to build up a distinct work culture amongst the officers. If the Bank has developed a competent line-up of Managers and Officers over the years, CBOO has played a very effective role along with the Management in motivating the rank and file to contribute to the Bank's growth. Apart from this, periodical discussions were held between the Management and CBOO on matters pertaining to the Bank's business strategies. Several notes and letters were submitted to the Management on the issues affecting the bank's growth.
CBOOs' relationship with the Management has been by far very cordial. Intermittently, there were marginal to serious I R conflicts in the four decades’ history. There were only two strikes called by CBOO in over 43years, one on 23rd December 1988 and another on 30th March 2002.
It has a well-organized Benevolent Fund started in 1982 through which financial grants and assistance are extended to the members and their dependents. The Benevolent Fund scheme introduced by us has been emulated by many other trade unions in the banking industry.
CBOO has an active Women's Wing. Several programmes were/are arranged to attend to the problems of women in the Bank. CBOO is the first bank union to amend its bye-laws in 1985 to provide for an elected office bearer representing women to the EC.
CBOO has an Education & Training Wing which provides inputs to build skills, knowledge and aptitude among the staff for better efficiency in the job. The wing started in 1984 has been converted into a formal set up called Balasubramanian Foundation for Education & Training in memory of one of CBOO's illustrious former Presidents, late N.Balasubramanian.
CBOO publishes a monthly journal called "Officers' Voice" which has been an inseparable and integral part of the Officers' Trade Union Movement in Corporation Bank. Started in July 1982, it has remained an effective instrument to express the views of the officers with a record of uninterrupted publication out from the press every first of the month.
CBOO has made it a practice to draw upon the knowledge, experience and wisdom of eminent personalities through lectures on contemporary issues. Persons of national eminence have participated in its Geneeral Body Meetings, Lecture Programmes and Symposia.
A few names are:
01. Late Dr.P.R. Brahmananda, Eminent Economist
02. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Agricultural Scientist
03. Ms. Medha Patkar, Environmentalist
04. Mr. V.R. Krishna Iyer, Eminent Jurist
05. Dr. U.R. Rao, Space Scientist
06. Dr. Kasturirangan, Space Scientist
07. Swami Agnivesh, Social Activist
08. Ms. Aruna Roy, Social Activist
09. Dr. U.R. Ananthamurthy, Writer
10. Justice Santosh Hegde, Former Lok Ayukta Chief, Karnataka
11. Justice Nagmohan Das, Forner Justice, Karnataka High Court,
12. Sri S Gurumurthi, a noted Corporate Adviser and Writer
13. Sri N Gopalswami, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India
14. Sri VittaldasLeeladhar, Former Deputy Governor of RBI
15. Dr. P D Shenoy, Former Union Labour Secretary
16. Sri Srikumar, Chief Vigilance Commissioner
17. Smt. SuchetaDalal, Noted Journalist
In 1999, to commemorate its silver jubilee (1973-1998) as a measure of its involvement in social action, CBOO set up a social action wing called 'SWASTI'. This wing is wholly involved in various actions related to social problems. SWASTIs' actions are wide-ranging and dispersed in different States. SWASTI extends its help to Govt. Primary Schools, Old Age Homes, Homes for mentally & physically challenged, etc. SWASTI has organized seminars, symposia and panel discussions on issues of social concern like social harmony, higher education, consumers' rights and water conservation. For all these activities the members generously contribute financial support and physical help.
At the national level CBOO is affiliated to All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) which is an apolitical central trade union of bank officers.
Over these four decades CBOO had two goals - to constantly improve the quality of life of the officers and to promote the quality of bank's human resources. In a large measure we have moved in these directions. It is pertinent to quote what Mr. M.V. Kamath, the reputed journalist says about CBOO in his book titled, 'Corporation Bank: A Corporate Journey.' Says he: "Over the years CBOO has given a clear direction to the officers' movement and provided an effective instrument to translate into reality the aspirations of the bank's officers."
While it has given a new direction to the officers' movement in the bank, others emulate many of its achievements in the bank and elsewhere. It is a positive thinking union, independent of all political or other ideologies. It has always been preached & practised, positive unionism and believed in the collaborative role of a trade union. Equal emphasis is given to the social responsibility of a trade union. Its actions are inspired by the following prayer of the Rigveda:
Samvo manaamsi jaanathaam
Devaa bhaagam yathaa poorve
[ May we assemble and march forward with a common purpose
May we confer together with open minds and
work together harmoniously for common good;
May we pool our thoughts for integrated wisdom,
and work actuated by higher ideals. ]