A section of employees of BASIC Bank today confined board members of the bank for nearly four hours demanding reinstatement of the previous salary structure.
The board of directors of the bank slashed the salary of its employees on December 22 for chronic losses, setting a precedent in Bangladeshi’s banking sector of linking performance to remuneration.
More than 500 employees of the bank started staging demonstration at its head office in the capital soon after the directors of the bank took part in a scheduled board meeting around 4:00pm today there.
The board meeting ended at 7:30pm but the employees confined the board members to press home their demand.
On information, a police team rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control.
However, the board members with police protection managed to come out of the meeting room around 11:00pm, said the bank officials.
Alauddin A Majid, chairman of BASIC Bank, told The Daily Star that the board had assured the employees to provide all types of benefit what are now given to other state-run banks.
But they have not satisfied with the board’s assurance, he said.
The agitation carried out by the employees is quite illogical as the bank has adjusted its salary structure in line with other state lenders, he made the comment at 8:45pm over mobile phone from a confining situation.
The aggrieved employees also confined BASIC Bank Managing Director Md Rafiqul Alam at his office all-day on December 23 on the same issue.
The managing director, however, got free from his confinement on that day after he had assured the employees of considering their demand in the next board meeting.
The decision to slash the salary was taken as part of its austerity measures and issued a notice to inform the employees that their salary would be fixed as per the structure followed by other public banks.
“The bank has been facing losses for the last seven years. Against the backdrop, the lender is unable to bear additional salary and allowance,” read the notice.
The bank has been following a special wage structure since its inception in 1989 that provided better pay package to its employees than other state-run lenders, said an official of the bank.
Besides, the bank also revised the salary structure in February 2013 to increase the wages once again.
At BASIC an officer draws a gross salary of about Tk 40,000, whereas the other state-run banks’ officers get Tk 30,000.
A senior officer at BASIC enjoys a gross amount of about Tk 50,000 when the same category officer in other state-run banks gets Tk 40,000.
One of the best performing banks until 2009, things took a turn for the worst when the present government came to power and appointed Abdul Hye Bacchu as its chairman.
Bacchu siphoned off more than Tk 4,500 crore from the bank between 2010 and 2013 in collaboration with a section of high officials and board members. Defaulted loans in the bank escalated in recent years, forcing the lender to face a large amount of provisioning shortfall as well.
The bank has also faced a capital shortfall in recent years, which compelled the government to inject funds to rescue it.