Corporation Bank officers continue to openly criticise their head honchos
Moneylife Digital Team 06 April 2011

The bashing of the bank’s management continues unabated in its in-house publication. A full-blown war has broken out within one of the leading Indian nationalised banks. The latest issue of the officer’s organisation’s journal is all out against Corporation Bank’s expansion plan

On 10th February, Moneylife had reported (Corporation Bank top management under fire from employees) on how the bank's officers had blamed the top brass for formulating faulty policies that had not only "inconvenienced" the staff, but had also led to the erosion of the customer base in several areas. This no-holds barred salvo was carried in Officers' Voice, a monthly journal of the (registered) officers' organisation of Corporation Bank.

Now it's obvious that this earlier outburst against the bank's top management has now blown into a full-scale war.

Corporation Bank aims to expand its branch network to 2,000 by March 2015, from the existing strength of 1,361 branches in March 2011(1,069 branches as of March 2009).

However, Officers' Voice alleges that "In this frenzy to have growth and expansion in branch network, the bank is unable to provide the basic issue of functionality in each new branch on the launch date."

The front page editorial in the April 2011 issue of Officers' Voice (Moneylife has a copy of the same) says that "nearly 70% of new branches are opened through 'soft opening'."

According to the journal, this kind of a "soft opening" is merely "a new word coined to open the branches without the premises and staff. The branches proposed to be opened will be given a branch code in the CBS (core banking solution) system to meet the branch expansion target. Thereafter, the search for premises and furnishing will begin, and by the time the branch starts functioning, to give service to the public, it will take another 2-4 months."

The editorial continues, "It is observed that out of the 152 branches opened since December 2010, 105 are not logging into the CBS to record transactions-clearly the branches are not functioning. The Branch Manager posted to a proposed new branch is in a quandary as he is advised to canvass for business. But there are no premises which he (the manager) can show to the customer if asked about the location of the branch. This issue came up for discussion in the Executive Committee meeting of the Officers' Organisation held in January 2011."

Officers' Voice says, "It was decided to conduct a study regarding the 'soft opening' of branches during the current year. The results of the study reveal that the bank had soft-opened about 50 branches at the end of December 2010. Out of this, about 30 were yet to open in reality as the fixing of premises and furnishing were yet to be completed. The Bank had soft-opened 102 branches by 12 March 2011. About 80 of them were yet to start functioning. There were two branches which had been soft-opened in March 2010 and the real opening was in only March 2011-a full year after the soft launch.

"Even though managers have been posted to the new branches, the complement of officers, clerks and sub-staff is not available. Vacancies that arise on account of business growth, retirement, promotion, resignations etc. are not taken into account. The net addition to the staff strength during the period from March 2009 to March 2011 is 1,369 whereas 307 branches have been opened during the same period. These new branches would require 1,535 staff as per the minimum staff complement agreed to be provided by the Bank management.

"Manpower planning is not in sync with the branch expansion and business plan. In new branches, it is often noticed that the Branch Manager and the officer are at the counter, which not only affects the business growth, but also the image of the bank.

The journal also says: "The existing branches also struggle under the manpower shortage as the staff is diverted from the existing branches to meet the needs of the branch expansion programme. With the large scale recruitment of experienced staff during the next 3-4 years, there is an urgent need to relook at the manpower planning."

In fact, a few months back, a Corporation Bank officer on inspection duty was assigned to inspect a new branch. As he could not locate the branch he contacted the Head Office. It was found that the branch was 'soft-opened' and yet to start functioning, says the journal.

Corporation Bank has set itself a goal of reaching Rs5 lakh crore business and plans to set up a network of 2,000 branches by March 2015, under what it calls its "five-year plan". In addition to these branches, according to the bank, 12 additional zonal offices will be set up during 2011-12.

Corporation Bank has recorded Rs1,67,000 crore in business. It has around 3,500 service outlets across the nation, served by 13,000-odd bankers. The bank provides Cash Management Services, Gold Banking and m-Commerce. It also grants online approvals for educational loans and it has implemented 100% CBS in all its major branches. It has also been trying to tap into the unbanked rural sector by targeting remote villages through low-cost branchless banking via the business correspondent model.

But despite all these ambitious plans, how will the bank manage to achieve these targets when there is an open revolt brewing among its top executives? It remains to be seen what action the board of Corporation Bank will take to resolve this tussle.

Here are a few caricatures that the bank's officers' journal has carried in its latest edition:

1 decade ago
Rome never built in One day, but we don't forget the time factor to lead the current scenario. Forget about the 14 principles of management given by henry fayol but at least follow some of them. Hiring the new members has to be done along with the expansion of business, growth of a organisation is based on the qualitative business and services and window dressing system like increasing the branches is not a solution. now a days especially in banking sector is breaking the management principles and values.
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