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We few on behalf of few more, hope that  our already crushed voices will be heard. We are raising this petition anonymously since we are minority in a vast organisation i.e. State Bank Of India. We are from erstwhile Associate of SBI (State Bank Of Travancore). We are writing this letter with heavy heart because we want to continue the job but fear the authority who will come with heavy hand and with threats of Job termination. We want to remain anonymous because most of us feel that we will be harassed by management and probably by association too. Because a few people in higher positions lack basic quality to empathize, they suggest us to resign and find new job. For majority of us Indians, Job and Life are two sides of same coin. Before , we want to clarify that we are not against any region, state, language or culture. As any other proud Indian we are proud of India’s multicultural society, and diversity. But we have read Indian Constitution which doesn’t stop us to practice and cherish our own individual language and culture. We respect diversity but we can’t be diverse individuals. we respect all languages but we cant speak all, we respect all religions but we cant follow and practice them all, we respect all cultures but we are all human beings. 

Having said that we would like to begin. 

We joined State Bank Of Travancore in 2015. Around 70% of the probationary officers were from North India. During whole recruitment process we never received any official notification that we need to learn Malayalam or Tamil. While filling the forms for the examination we were asked about languages known. Almost all the candidates did not mention Tamil, Malayalam. We were posted in Rural Parts of southern states. While our South Indian counterparts who knew the language got posting near their homes or relatives. But since we agreed to Terms and conditions mentioning that we are ready to work anywhere in India, we kept our mouths shut and started learning Southern Languages. But we never knew that accepting Terms and Conditions would cost us our lives, family. Very few of us succeeded in learning Malayalam/Tamil language, learning how to greet or reading few words. 

But after one year we felt that that was not enough. From Kerala, now we were posted in rural parts of Tamil Nadu or vice versa, where we had to learn Tamil or some other parts of Kerala where Malayalam is different from what we learned. Since India is such a diverse country every part has its own dialect and localised accent. Even southern counterparts were unable to cope up with this problem. People from Tamilnadu couldn’t understand Malayalam and vice versa. But we were expected to learn these languages. We already know two languages apart from Hindi but were forced to learn an entirely new language within few months or days. We were expected not only to learn but read. As we were handling sensitive positions like accountant, field Officers etc., we were expected to read and understand Mortgage Deeds written in Tamil. When asked for help we were laughed at. Constant mocking and ridicule left us to turn blind eye towards such sensitive papers. But we were asked to be vigilant since we are officers. How could we make sure that local staff was not in connivance with the customers?. Fortunately no such illegal incident occurred, but for how many days or even hours? We already know about PNB Scam. Will  we be prosecuted since we signed Terms and Conditions and we don’t understand anything? We are already harassed for not achieving the targets. Are we waiting to become scapegoats if some scam happens? We are working here under constant fear. During all this time, one thing we never learnt was BANKING. But we learnt an unfortunate thing i.e. We forgot that India is also the land of discrimination based on language, region, culture. We started feeling the heat and therefore eagerly waited for Merger of Associate Banks with Parent Bank i.e. SBI, so that we will be given choice of our home  for transfers. Also since SBT was bank with presence in south we understood their situation. But SBI which has 16 circles has no reason to keep us in South. But situation worsened when we were informed that ICT(Inter Circle Transfer) was sham. We were asked to chose between two circles i.e. Kerala or Chennai. Since Banking is not about mathematics, Cash, notes. Banking is service industry and like every other service industry it is also 99% communication (as one of the faculty member in SBLC told us). But communication requires Language or gestures. But we learnt that even gestures were alien to us. So we have not been at our 100 percent potential in providing Service to customers. But our Question is , how could have we passed? Does any higher official from the bank knows the answer? We look forward to them to practically show us how to satisfy customers speaking other language. We hereby challenge every higher officials of the bank specially those who are in Human Resources department to work in such area where they are alien to language, culture and tick all the targets for two years and remain vigilant and learn the languages. Customers who should be treated like God in a service industry have stopped talking to us in braches and why shouldn’t they. No one talks to a smiling robot who cant do anything but smile back. We also want to direct the attention of Official Language department and Govt of India to look into the situation. We are laughed at the branches for our inability to speak in local language, we even faced abuses in local language which we tried to ignore. Customers have complained against us. We have worst faced discrimination possible and threats too. This is the reason we believe that lower growth trajectory of SBI is because of poor HR Policies of Bank. After 16 years SBI has declared loss and we fear trend will continue if employees are not taken care of. No organisation can survive by ignoring their employees. Last year in September SBI was among the top rankers in Indeed’s workplace rankings. But in same month newspaper article reported the discontent among Associate Bank employees. But no newspaper reported the vows of SBT North Indian Employees who were in double jeopardy. Our voices were ignored in SBT our voices are ignored in SBI. Association has become self serving organisation whose job is to take monthly membership fee and that has become end in itself. We understand that Association provided financial help to deceased employees’ family but what about us who are dying daily in such environment? To point out all the issues would be huge task but we try to point out few 

a) Worst HR Policy of postings and Transfers. 

b) Postings in places where we don’t understand even the alphabets of the language. 

c) We are not accustomed to Food Habit and living alone. Empathise or at least imagine us as human beings who are living alone with no neighbours to talk, no relatives to visit unlike higher officials and association members. We too are social animals who expect friendly environment while working, while having lunch or tea. We feel the need to talk to our colleagues. We want to meet other people from neighbourhood. We feel the need to visit the doctor whom we can explain our sickness if we fall sick(or may be unlike Higher Officials we are not super humans whose only job is to work). 

d) We feel the need to get posted in places where we understand the language, and thereby be able to talk to customers, satisfying their queries which we feel is the only way to excel in banking industry. 

e) We need a level playing field which our south Indian counterparts get.

f) We feel the need to get a salary which is at par with SBI counterparts. Probationary Officers of SBI get four increments more than us. It means that we (2015 batch POs) get salary which 2019 batch PO will get from first month. We know that even SBI employees are not heard by SBI Management over issue of salary rise. So we are doubly harassed since we are getting salary lower than what is already lower. Whatever points media has already raised regarding harassment of banking employees make us smile since that is nothing in front of what we (erstwhile associate bank employees) are facing in SBI. 

g) We feel the need to be posted in a place where we can reach our parents at short notice in times of emergency like our southern counterparts do. Our parents are living far away which these higher officials wont understand since they are living in comfortable postings and living with their families. 

h) Lastly a general problem faced by every employee in banking is : Never ending working hours. We are working from 9:30 am till 9:00 pm. These timings are not during March closing but these are normal timings which we are expected to work for. Higher officials continuously pressurize young officers saying that “You are young, what will you do if you go home early?” “When we were young we used to work more”. Since when past injustice justifies present injustice? Do we come under Labour Law or not?

i) It shall be also noted that the prevalent transfer policy is in violation of the Government of India, Ministry of Finance Circular No: F.No.4/9/1/2014-IR, which was framed to minimize the hardship faced by the female employees. The direction of 2014 has not even been implemented in full or in part.

We repeat that we have nothing against our south Indian brothers and sisters. They deserve home posting like us. Only point of contention is that they already got the postings but we haven’t even after 2 tough years. We are sure if we are posted in Hindi Speaking or any other language which we mentioned in our forms we will be able to achieve the results which are expected from us daily. But till that time SBI should forget that. Every animal every plant is product of its surrounding and environment. Likewise Society, language and culture acts like that environment for humans. If you try to alienate any living thing from its surroundings, it will die. 

Our demands are simple. We want posting where we understand language and within shorter distance from home if not home posting. If that is not possible we demand HR Department of SBI and higher officials working there, to work in such place and branches and show us how to achieve targets. We demand Association members to give their places of posting. How many of them are facing the situation we are facing. We ask Association to tell us why few employees are given best postings throughout their career but not us. We demand at par treatment with SBI Employees. Terms and conditions should be designed to suit both the organisation and employees not the other way around. Posting us far from family in places where we feel alone and miserable is not even helping the organisation. We suggest SBI to do KYEP (Know your Employees problems) before carrying on KYC (Know your customer). This discrimination based on language has made our lives miserable and frustrated. Most of us as frustrated and facing depression

Because after all we are the soldiers who fight on ground and as an organisation that wants to grow, SBI needs to understand that an unhealthy soldier can’t win wars. 

Thank you,

A sincere Banker

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