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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Good News On Insurance Premium And Bad News On Pension Fund

CIRCULAR LETTER No. 28/33/2017/33                           23-9-2017


Dear Comrades,

Reg: Group Medical Insurance Scheme

Units are aware that under the 10th Bipartite Settlement, a new Group Medical Insurance was introduced in lieu of the earlier in-house reimbursement scheme.  This scheme is in operation from October, 2015 and management is paying the entire insurance premium for all the employees and officers with a cover of Rs. 3 lacs for Award staff and Rs. 4 lacs for Officers along with buffer scheme, ex-gratia for special diseases, cashless treatment, etc.  

From our experience and feedback received from our unions, last year we took up certain issues with IBA and pointed out some of the difficulties faced by the Banks/employees/retirees in the implementation of the Scheme.  Some of the issues taken up were:

i. While the Scheme covers reimbursement of Rs. 3 lacs and Rs. 4 Lacs for clerks/substaff and officers respectively plus additional coverage from Corporate Buffer, some of the managements are maintaining that the coverage is only restricted upto Rs. 3 lacs and R. 4 lacs.  The correct position should be suitably clarified to all the Banks and in turn by all Banks to the employees at large regarding proper utilisation of the buffer amount.

ii. An important advantage of the Scheme is the Cashless facility available for treatment in hospitals.  But instances are coming to our attention that in many centres, many hospitals are not covered by tie-up and hence employees are asked to pay for the treatment and then seek reimbursement.  IBA and Banks should take up with the TPAs to ensure that maximum hospitals are covered by tie-up so that employees are not put to difficulties to avail cashless treatment facility.

iii. The Settlement and the Scheme clearly provide that employees would submit the Bills to the Banks as in the past and the Bank should submit the Bills to the TPA to get the reimbursement.  But some of the managements are asking the employees to submit the Bills directly to the TPA or delaying the bills to be forwarded to the TPA.  This should be stopped and suitable instructions should be given.

iv. There are instances of death occurring during treatment in hospital and if it happens to be Sunday or holiday, the hospital/TPA do not come to the rescue and the family is facing problems in getting the body of the patient in time.  Such things should not be allowed to happen.

v. Instances have also come to our attention where certain treatments like Dialysis, etc. are disallowed by the TPA though covered by the Scheme and the employees are forced to pay the cost to the hospital.  Hence our scheme should be properly implemented by the TPAs and employees should not be put into such hardship.

vi. In the case of Bills submitted to the Banks for domiciliary treatment, there are many complaints of undue delay by the TPAs and managements are not taking steps to liaise with them to expedite the claims.   Special attention is required in this regard and necessary steps are to be taken.

vii. Though Corporate Buffer facility is available for claims over Rs. 3 lacs/Rs. 4 lacs, many Banks are yet to issue open guidelines for utilisation/claims under the buffer limit.  This defeats the very purpose of the facility.  IBA should advice all the Banks to issue proper instructions on utilisation of the corporate buffer amount.

IBA assured to look into these issues and wanted to the unions to inform them any other problem that employees face generally.

In the current negotiations with the IBA on our charter of demands for 11th Bipartite Settlement, we have again taken these issues with them. In the meantime, the Group Medical Insurance Policy is being renewed for one more year from October, 2017 to September, 2018 with the same rate of premium. 

We once again request all our unions to let us know the details and types  of problems being faced by our members at the hands of managements/ TPA/ UIIC.

We solicit urgent and priority attention to this issue by our unions.

With greetings,
     Yours comradely,

CIRCULAR LETTER No. 28/34/2017/34                           24-9-2017


Dear Comrades,

  • Investments from Employee related funds like Provident Fund, Gratuity Fund and Pension Fund.

All of us are aware that due to the consistent efforts and prolonged struggles of AIBEA, there have been improvements in the wages and service conditions of bank employees in the last seven decades.  Retirement benefits like PF, Gratuity, Pension, etc. are very important achievements of the organisation to enable the employees to lead a safe, secure and decent life after retirement from the Banks after spending their prime lifetime in their service in the Banks.  

Before the K C Sen Tribunal in 1949, these were important demands from AIBEA and all our Unions.  Right from the period of Sen Award, AIBEA has endevoured to improve these retirement benefits.  Pension Settlement of 1993 and Settlement of one more option for pension signed in 2010 are landmark achievements.  

Since these benefits are payable upon the retirement of the employees, the funds are kept separately in Trust Accounts.  The money available in these Funds are invested as per Government guides in approved securities and the return on these investments are equally important to augment the financial position of these Funds.

In order to play the watch-dog role, representatives of our Unions are appointed as Trustees in these Trusts in all the Banks.  Our Trustee have to play an important and vigilant role so that the Trust Funds are maintained and invested properly and employees’ interests are taken care.

Recently, we have come across an experience where the funds from the Pension Fund of a Bank was invested in a private company in the form of Non-Convertible Secured Debenture.  

The same private company was also given huge loans ( around Rs. 14,000 crores ) by that Bank and other Banks.  Rather, it should be said that the Company which was favoured with such a huge loan was also favoured with this investment from the Employees Pension Fund.  

This account has become NPA and is one among the 12 major accounts before the National Company Law Tribunal.  Obviously, the investment in the Debenture Bond also became a dead investment and NPA.

Since the Bank’s Pension Fund is an investor and hence a Creditor, the Insolvency  Resolution Professional has asked the Pension Fund to submit its claim.  

It can be anticipated that neither the Bank’s loan would come back nor there is any possibility to get back the money due to the Pension Fund.  RBI has already indicated that the Banks have to be ready for deep haircut and be prepared to make provisions for these accounts.  Hence neither the Fund will get back the money nor even interest on the NCD Bonds.  

Hence our Unions and particularly, our Trustees in the employee-related Funds/Trusts should be careful, cautious and vigilant to ensure that such investments are avoided by the management.  Any investment in such private companies should be properly scrutinised and verified about their credit ratings, reputation, etc., before our Trustees agree to the same.  We should demand all details before an informed decision is taken on such investments.

Shortly we will convene a meeting of our Trustees of PF, Gratuity and Pension Fund in various Banks to understand such contingencies, caution to be exercised for agreeing on investments, etc.  and to better equip our Trustees.

With greetings,

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