Friday, September 10, 2010

NOINO discusses Meal Coupon with ED(P)

Further to our protest lodged with the Chairman immediately after introduction of Meal Coupon Scheme on 1st September 2010, NOINO & NOIW discussed the matter with ED (Personnel) on 8th September 2010 i.e. yesterday.

We give below the details of our discussions held:

(Affiliated to B.M.S.)



LIC introduced the scheme of meal coupons from 1st September 2010. However, the joy of the employees was short-lived when it was found that there were a lot of draconian conditions attached to it. A lot of resentment has been generated on this count. NOINO & NOIW immediately wrote separate letters to the Chairman expressing our resentment. NOINO/NOIW also decided to conduct protest demonstrations on 8th September against the conditional grant of meal coupons. However, the ED (P) appealed to us not to go ahead with these demonstrations & discuss the issue instead. We then decided to suspend the demonstrations in view of the appeal. The discussions took place on 8th September 2010 with the ED (P). The discussions continued for more than an hour & all issues relating to this scheme were discussed thread-bare. The delegation consisted of Shri Ganesh Kamath, GS, NOINO; Shri Manish Patankar, Jt. Secy, NOINO, WZ; Shri Dnyanesh Paranjape, Secy, NOIW; Shri Brahmesh Hardikar, Secy, NOIW; Shri Nitin Paranjape, CC member, NOIW. Following are the details of the discussions:-

At the outset, we placed on record our views about the issue. We reiterated our firm opposition to any conditions being attached with any benefit & demanded that any benefit should be given without any strings attached. We also protested the fact that the management did not take into confidence NOINO & NOIW before taking this decision & said that such unilateralism did not bode well for the industrial relations. Then we discussed the following points:-

Grace period: - ED (P) assured that the facility of grace period would continue.
Late coming: - ED (P) assured that the facility of late-coming two times in a month would continue. However, the employee would not get coupons for those days. We have opposed this. We then pointed out that the employees who have the intention to attend in time but due to circumstances out of control (e.g. trains running late, or strike of some sort etc) sometimes cannot attend in time & hence natural justice would be denied to them if the coupons were to be refused for that day.. The ED (P) replied that in the circumstances wherein there is a problem affecting a large number of employees or if it related to office exigencies, the late would be condoned & the coupon would be intact. However, it would not be condoned if there was some personal reason or if the problem relates to only one or two employees. We then raised the issue of ‘express permission’ which has been mentioned in the meal coupons circular. ED (P) said that it related to such situations as explained above where the concerned officer had the discretion to waive the late-coming. We then demanded that management should issue clarification about the doubts. ED (P) assured to look into it.
Login through E-Portal: - We pointed out that such system was not in vogue in majority of the government institutions/PSU like RBI, SBI, Income-tax, Central Govt, and Banks. In some institutions there is a swap-card system in practice but that is more related to security rather than attendance. ED (P) was firm that the login system would not be done away & was here to stay. We reiterated our firm opposition to it & said that this system was impractical.
Issues concerning Class I Officers:- We pointed out that the brunt of the employees ire would have to be borne by the Class I Officers. The Class I Officers, particularly in the branches have to run the show with the co-operation of the Class III/IV employees. If they were to walk out at the official closure of office timings even during closing period (due to the resentment against the scheme) then the entire burden would then fall on the already hard-pressed Class I Officers. We also said that leaving too much to the discretion of Class I Officers would spell more trouble for them & give rise to daily squabbles. We therefore insisted that a circular should be issued defining the general circumstances where the discretion could be used to minimize the problem. We also pointed out that the scheme would further increase the work pressure of the Class I Officers because now they have been asked to login for Class IV employees, handicapped employees etc. in addition to marking the muster manually till such time the muster practice was discontinued. In addition to that, now the ‘Approver’ has to actually ratify the presence of those employees who have logged in. ED (P) said that management would take care of that. However, we said that it was easier said than done.
Impracticalities in the scheme: - We pointed out that the respective OS departments would have a tedious job at hand. This would also lead to unnecessary loss of precious man-hours.
½ day leave: - We argued that if a person availed ½ day leave, he would still work for 3½ hours on that day. When the coupons would be issued for Saturday for the same number of working hours, then the same logic should have been applied here too. ED (P) replied that the logic for issuing coupons on Saturdays was different. It was because for all practical purposes Saturday is treated as a full working day & if an employee takes leave on Saturday it is treated as full day leave. We did not agree to that & demanded that any type of leave should be excluded for the purpose of grant of this coupon. At the most the habitual & perennial offenders may be brought under the ambit of this scheme.
Early going facility: - We demanded that the early going facility should be restored immediately. We also pointed out that in case of an unforeseen emergency both the employee required to go early from the office as well as his immediate officer would be in trouble in view of the wordings ‘ apart from any other action taken by the Competent authority’. ED (P) replied under such extraordinary circumstances, the management would consider not taking any action in such cases. However, in other cases, the employees should apply for ½ day leave.
Training/Tour :- On this issue, ED (P), assured that wherever the employee was not eligible for TA, DA, he would be paid the meal coupon e.g. one day training. We also raised the issue about the officials not being eligible for coupon when he would be late from an official tour which would be unfair if the circumstances would be beyond his control. However, the ED (P) was not positive about this.
Other issues: - We said that though now an amount was specified for each cadre, it would be insufficient after some time due to inflation & suggested that there should be a system to review it periodically & link it to the Dearness allowance. ED (P) has noted this point. We also pointed out that the coupons beyond 100 rupees would attract tax on perks & demanded that this should be absorbed by the Corporation. ED (P) has assured to look into the matter.
In the end, we reiterated our earlier stand that the scheme should be de-linked from the conditions & the scheme was not acceptable to us in the present format & the conditions should be removed forthwith & improvements be made. We also reiterated that there should not be any further unilateral decisions & insisted that the management should consult/discuss NOINO/NOIW before taking any policy decisions regarding employees.

Shri Ganesh Kamath
Shri Atul Deshpande

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