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SBI strike to continue as Govt does not concede demands

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 5 (UNI) The Central Government today did not concede the demands of the striking SBI employees to increase the pensionary benefits forcing the Delhi High Court to adjourn the matter till April 19.

Appearing before a division bench of Justice Mukundan Sharma and Justice Reva Khetrapal, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P P Malhotra said the employees of the state-owned State Bank of India were enjoying all three benefits--gratuity, contributory provident fund and pension.

If the government conceded to their demands, the employees of all other public sector banks would also raise the same demands, said Mr Malhotra.

After preliminary arguments, the Court suggested the striking employee unions to suspend the strike for a fortnight with the condition that the court would appoint a committee to look into the matter and suggest the solutions as they could not ''take the customers for ransom by continuing the strike.'' The court adjourned the matter for half-an-hour for the Counsel appearing for different unions and staff to seek instructions from their respective clients.

Later the Unions submitted that they would suspend the strike if the government was agreed to raise the pension as an interim measure pending final decision.

The Government did not concede and said the negotiation with the Chairman of the SBI and the employees was on. As the High Court would go on a vacation from tomorrow till April 17, the matter, if not resolved, would come up for hearing on April 19. Expressing its concern, the Court said, ''The SBI staff have an orenous responsibility to the people as the salary and pension of lakhs of employees were being disbursed by the bank.'' ''Are you fighting against the government or the public?'' asked the court.

''The people are in trouble as they are unable to draw money for treatment of their children,'' observed the Court.

The court said the interim order of restraining striking SBI employees from staging protest or dharna within 500 metres of any of the branches all over the country would continue.

The SBI staff are on strike since April 3 demanding a better pension scheme upto 50 percent of the last salary for retired employees.

Petitioner Raghvindra Singh, has sought direction to restrain the bank unions from obstructing the normal business of the banks all over the country.

Senior Counsel Rajiv Shakdhar appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the Court should appoint a committee to look into the matter and till then employees might be directed to suspend the strike.


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