SBI functioning paralysed as employees go on indefinite strike
New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) Banking services in the State Bank of India (SBI) across the country today came to a grinding halt following an indefinite strike called by bank officers and employees.
SBI unions claimed that about 2.5 lakh employees, including officers, joined the strike in 9,000 branches across the country.
The nation wide strike comes in the wake of the government's failure to address the long-pending issue of pension scheme, awaiting revision for the past 14 years. The union's talk with the Chief Labour Commissioner in Delhi on April one had also failed.
According to bank sources, while pension was revised and updated in the case of the several associate banks of SBI, it was not undertaken for the SBI employees.
In response to a call given by the Joint Action Committee(JAC) comprising All India State Bank Officers Federation(AISBOF) and All India State Bank of India Staff Federation (AISBISF), the workers and officers across the country went on protest.
Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country recieved a jolt when the banking services in the 260 branches of SBI were totally paralysed by the strike.
SBI (Mumbai) employee union vice president Avinash Kolhatkar told UNI that more than 8,500 employees of the bank, including officers upto assistant general manager (AGM) level joined the nationwide strike.
He said the strike was ''total'' and this has affected business transactions of the bank in foreign exchange and money market.
Transactions in SBI branches across Goa were also crippled following the boycott by its employees.
The employees mobbed in front of respective offices raising slogans in support of the demands even as the Supreme Court, in its interim order, had directed the agitators to stay 500 metres away from the bank premises.
Bhopal also took part in the agitation with nearly 700 branches of the State Bank of India in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh remaining non- functional today as nearly 10,000 employees and 5,000 officers struck work.
About 90 per cent clearing houses managed by SBI in both states could not transact routine business, SBI Workmen's Union Joint Secretary R P Vyas said.
Down South too, public had to bear the bank employee's brunt.
Bank operations in the State Bank of India branches in Pondicherry also came struck work as over 300 staff members in 12 branches struck took part in the agitation.
They held a demonstration before the SBI main branch here.
In Chhattisgarh more than 4500 agitating officers and employees in 212 S B I branches staged demonstration in front of the main branch in the state capital, SBI Workmen Union's state secretary Ramendra Hore said. Banking services across Uttar Pradesh were no better as the functioning at all branches and offices of biggest commercial bank, came to a grinding halt across the state, including 833 SBI branches in the Lucknow division. The non-availability of cash at the bank's ATMs, further compounded the woes of the public, especially at the beginning of the month.
Banks in Himachal Pradesh too wore a derserted look after the SBI employees resorted to agitation demanding revision of pension at 50 per cent of the last pay drawn and provision of family pension at par with other banks.
Talking to UNI here the bank's Officer' association deputy general secretary D K Sharma said complete strike was observed in all its 151 branch offices in the state.
Besides, workmen and officers of SBI Hyderabad joined the strike by boycotting duties and bank transactions.
There was slogan-shouting at the SBI Hyderabad Circle main office campus at Koti 'We want justice' in tune with drum beats and a banner display. Employees upto the rank of AGM participated in the dharna in the campus. The SBI Pensioners Association too extended their support.
SBI Staff Union Hyderabad Circle General Secretary M V Murali said the pension issue was pending for over 15 years. Family Pension was worse since it had not been revised since last 20 years. The State Bank Management and the Government were unconcerned and the strike had become inevitable, he added.
Around 180 branches of SBI in Rajasthan have been affected today by the nationwide indefinite strike call given by its employees.
Bhupesh Chawla, deputy zonal secretary of All India State Bank Staff Association said here: ''Around 4,000 employees are on strike in the state. It is for the first time in the 200-year-old history of SBI that its employees have gone on an indefinite strike.'' In addition to the above mentioned places, services in all 936 branches of SBI across Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand also ran into trouble, following agitation by the bank employees.
SBI Staff Association, Bihar and Jharkhand general secretary J N Singh said that the employees and officers staged 'dharna' in front of their offices demanding review of the existing pension scheme.
He ruled out the possibility of calling off the agitation until the Indian Bank Association and the the government conceded the demand.