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PSU Insurance Employees Stage One-day Strike Over Wage Revision Demand

Ronak Chhabra |
Friday’s action was called a collective forum of employees’ unions in the sector; leaders also threatened to call for an indefinite strike in the days to come.
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Striking employees sat on a dharna at Oriental Insurance Company's head office in New Delhi. Image Courtesy - Special Arrangement

New Delhi: The Joint Forum of Unions (JFTU) and Associations in Public Sector General Insurance Companies- representing more than 50,000 Employees and Officers, staged a one-day work strike on Friday to press their demand of long pending wage revision.

The decision to abstain from work for a day in protest was prompted after the issue of wage revision of over 58,000 employees and officers were not sincerely addressed by the Department of Financial Services of the Central Government’s Ministry of Finance along with the General Insurance Public Sector Association (GIPSA), according to the forum.

GIPSA is the lobby group for the four state-owned multiline general insurers – The New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company, and United India Insurance Company – and the General Insurance Corporation of India.

Wage revision in these public sector companies has been due since August 2017.

On Friday, union leaders, leading the strike in their respective zones, also threatened to call for an indefinite strike in the days to come, in case their “genuine demands” were not addressed immediately. A meeting of all the constituents of JFTU is scheduled for Friday evening in which a decision on the same is expected to be taken, NewsClick has been told.

All the officers and employees of public sector general insurance companies have been on strike today, Girish Khurana, the forum’s national convenor,  informed NewsClick on Friday morning.

Earlier, on Thursday- July 14, in a letter addressed to office bearers of JFTU constituents, Khurana explained the reasons behind calling for a one-day strike. “It is most unfortunate that nobody in DFS and Managements took the issues sincerely and we have always received empty promises only,” he said.

The forum is demanding a 15% wage hike along with arrears, similar to what was awarded to the employees of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) last year. 

On the other hand, last month, GIPSA offered the aggrieved employees a 5% wage hike with 2% of arrears – a ‘humiliating’ offer, according to the forum, which was ‘immediately rejected.’

“It has been a tradition for many years now in the country’s financial services sector that the public sector general insurance employees are awarded a wage revision on par with the LIC and those in the banking sector,” argued Satish Kumar Jindal, secretary, General Insurance Employees’ All India Association (GIEAIA) in a telephonic interview with NesClick on Friday. GIEAIA is one of the constituents of the forum.

Jindal added that wage revisions in both the LIC and the banking sector have been completed long back. “The general insurance employees have been performing well for over many decades now. Hence, there is no logic in accepting a disgraceful offer – as was made by GIPSA,” he said.

Moreover, there is also an issue of “no commitment of any kind about the offer as also no commitment on any timelines to settle the issue,” from GIPSA’s end, explained Khurana in his Thursday’s letter.

NewsClick had earlier reported how the forum deferred an indefinite strike last month after GIPSA agreed to begin active consideration of wage revision after a lapse of 59 months from the due date.

According to Khurana, after the last offer by GIPSA was rejected, “nobody again bothered to move the issues ahead,” adding that the unions and associations have been waiting “patiently” for another offer till Friday, “but all in vain.”

“If this is how it goes, then the employees and officers of public sector GICs will be left with no other choice but to go on an indefinite strike to press for our genuine demands,” Jindal of GIEAIA warned on Friday.

Meanwhile, support for the public sector general insurance employees and officers has also come from Central Trade Unions in the country, with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) earlier justifying the former’s decision to reject insurer management’s last offer.

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