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SBI regrets inconvenience caused to customers; strike continues

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Apr 4 (UNI) Sensing an impending cash withdrawal crisis in over 3,000 ATMs, the State Bank of India (SBI) today urged its customers to avail of the ATM facility at its associate banks and also other banks as the nation-wide strike by its employees from more than 9,000 branches continued for the second day today.

About 220,000 employees including officers upto the rank of assistant general manager (AGM) went on an indefinite strike across the country, demanding an upward revision of pension scheme.

The strike has not only affected the banking function at its branches but also the clearing process mainly in cities where SBI operates clearing house for clearing of cheques in the absence of the Reserve Bank.

Being the largest commercial bank that handles a majority of the government transactions, the stoppage of work at the SBI branches held up thousands of people from either getting their salaries or pension, causing great inconveniences to the public especially to senior citizens.

In a statement, SBI management today expressed its regret on the inconvenience caused to its customers due to the indefinite strike by its employees.

''In case of any difficulty experienced at our ATMs, customers may avail of the ATM facility at our associate banks and the banks with whom we have bilateral arrangements namely, HDFC Bank, UTI Bank, IndusInd Bank, Corporation Bank, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank, Dena Bank, UCO Bank and Punjab National Bank'', the statement said.

The Bank also waived the usual charges otherwise levied under the bilateral arrangements with the aforesaid nine banks for the transactions made during the period of the strike.

Union sources said that the strike would continue until the government gives an assurance that the pension ceiling for the SBI employees would be brought at par with other banking organisations.

In SBI, the pension ceiling has been kept unchanged at Rs 4,250 per month based on the salary structure of 1992, even though the salary was revised twice in 1997 and 2002.

The unions have been demanding a hike in pension amount on parity with other organisations where the pension amount is higher by 50 per cent, based on the last salary drawn by the employees.

Union sources said the hike in pension would require only Rs 180 crore a year and the amount has already been earmarked by the SBI management.

In fact, a majority shareholder of the bank, Reserve Bank of India had approved the proposal of increasing the pension of the staff at parity with others but the Finance Ministry has not approved the proposal yet, sources added.

The hike in pension would be met with internal resources of SBI as the bank has a total corpus of Rs 8,800 crore.

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