No Achievement- No Levy - Kamlesh Chaturvedi


Thursday, October 22, 2020

No Achievement- No Levy

 In ordinary words, levy in respect of trade unions may be defined as imposition or collection of an amount by compulsion. It has been a convention in the trade union movement of the banking industry to impose and collect levy as definite percentage of the amount calculated as arrears because of the increase in salary due to settlement on wage revision. More the amount of arrears-more is resultant amount of levy. Thus there is a common belief amongst bank employees that settlement on wage revision is intentionally and unduly delayed with a view to increase the amount of arrears so that they may collect huge amount as levy. In the past, bank employees used to pay levy willingly and happily because they were witness of the honesty with which trade union leaders and workers used to devote their time and energy in struggling to achieve higher wages and in the process had to earn displeasure and annoyance of the management of the bank which used to get reflected in the form of punitive transfers, suspension or charge sheets as also cases registered by police against them under different sections of the IPC. Bank Employees still pay definite amount willingly and happily whenever they find and see that Union is in urgent need of money for a cause. Money has never been a cause of concern for trade union leaders and workers in the banking industry. Present debate on Levy reflects growing dissatisfaction and anguish of average bank employee towards not only because of unreasonable and undue delay in wage revision settlement but also because of the fact that there is no uniformity in perception and demand of the workers and demand of the UFBU.

Considering the fact that there is huge difference between the demands of average bank employee and the demand being pressed and negotiated at the apex level, a debate is going on amongst the bank employees with regard to the payment of Levy which has been collected by the Unions over a period of time after signing of the settlement on wage revision as definite percentage of the wage increase arrears. It is being argued that when behaviour of the leaders involved in Negotiations is such which resembles that of a behaviour of an authoritarian or dictator and they are not listening to the voice of average bank employee of launching a sustained struggle for achieving the equality and parity in wages for the purpose of regaining the lost honour and dignity of the bank employees instead they are adamant to negotiate and settle with the IBA as per their whims and fancies without getting approval and sanction of the bank employees, why levy should be paid ? We thought it proper and appropriate to guide the average employee in this regard to end the discussion on levy.

So the first question which arises and concerning the average bank employee is whether a member of the union can be forced and compelled to make payment of the Levy? What are the possible consequences arising out of non-payment of levy to the Unions? Let us make an Endeavour to answer this question. 

The only legislative Act which governs and regulates the Trade Unions in our country is Trade Unions Act, 1926. Section 15 and 16 of Chapter 3 contains provisions with regard to the funds of the Union. Section 15 relates to General Fund which comprises money collected from members of the unions through monthly subscription. This Section also describes various purposes on which amount from General Fund may be spent. For our purpose of Levy it is Section 16 which is worth mentioning and which reads as under:

Constitution of a separate FUND for political purposes

(1) A registered TRADE union may constitute a separate FUND, from contributions separately levied for or made to that fund, from which payments may be made, for the promotion of the civic and political interests of its members, in furtherance of any of the objects specified in sub-section (2).

(2) The objects referred to in sub-section (1) are:

(a) the payment of any expenses incurred, either directly or indirectly, by a candidate or prospective candidate for election as a member of any legislative body constituted under the Constitution] or of any local authority, before, during or after the election in connection with his candidature or election; or

(b) the holding of any meeting or the distribution of any literature or documents in support of any such candidate; or

(c) the maintenance of any person who is a member of any legislative body constituted under the Constitution or for any local authority; or

(d) the registration of electors or the selection of a candidate for any legislative body constituted under the Constitution or for any local authority ; or

(e) the holding of political meetings of any kind, or the distribution of political literature or political documents of any kind.

(3) No member shall be compelled to contribute to the FUND constituted under sub-section (1); and a member who does not contribute to the said fund shall not be excluded from any benefits of the TRADE union, or placed in any respect either directly or indirectly under any disability or at any disadvantage as compared with other members of the TRADE union (except in relation to the control or management of the said fund) by reason of his not contributing to the said fund; and contribution to the said fund shall not be made a condition for admission to the trade union.

Thus, Sub-section (3) of Section 16 of the Trade Unions Act, 1926 undoubtedly and clearly makes it clear that there is no compulsion to make payment of levy to the Union and if a member does not contribute and makes payment of levy he shall not be excluded from any benefits of the trade union. In other words, a member of the Union who refuses to make payment of levy can’t be discriminated and treated differently in union by separating him for other members who have made payment of levy. Thus, payment of levy can easily be avoided by writing a letter to the Incumbent Incharge of the place of the work intimating and informing him that you are not willing to make payment of levy to the union and hence amount of levy must not be deducted from the arrears of wage reason and be paid to the union.

Since “WE BANKERS” is committed and determined to launch a sustained movement for bringing necessary reforms in the working of our unions with a view to induct in the Unions complete democracy, Transparency and accountability towards the members of the unions, we would continue to guide Bank Employees on the issue of Payment of Levy. At this juncture we may guarantee that for those bank employees who are involving and committing themselves in genuine trade union activities of bringing reforms in their Unions to make them strong by brining necessary changes in style of their working to suit with the changes of the present, payment of Levy must not be a point of concern as we are competent to deal with situation emanating from non-payment of levy. We would guide Bank Employees at appropriate time in this regard. 

At this point of time, it is necessary to devote and concentrate on our movement for achieving equality and parity in Salary, Pension and number of days working per week in line with Central Government of Employees. It is most unfortunate for us that our leaders are not listening to our voice and not agreeing to our principal demands for reasons only best known to them. Otherwise if they commit and devote themselves for achieving these demands with courage, conviction and determination, we don’t think any of the bank employees would ever object making payment of levy to the union.

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