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SBI strike: Rs 1 lakh cr held up, Left demands govt to intervene

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) Cheque transactions worth over Rs one lakh crore have been held up as the State Bank of India (SBI) strike entered its sixth day today, while the Left parties demanded immediate intervention of the Centre to resolve the deadlock and the SBI Officers Association announced it is ready to hold a dialogue with the government on the pension issue.

There has already been a loss of over Rs 100 crore in exports, All Indian Association of Industries (AIAI) President Vijay Kalantri said.

''The strike has paralysed financial services as well as trade and industry transactions and this needs to be resolved at the earliest to redress customer woes,'' a release quoting Mr Kalantri here said.

AIAI feels that prolonged strike would affect business, especially small scale industries and exports, the release added.

Meanwhile, All India State Bank of India Staff Federation secretary P K Patnaik told mediapersons that his union, along with the All India State Bank Officers' Federation, was willing to call off the six-day strike, provided the Government agrees to their ''scaled-down demands'' as an interim measure.

The union representatives were expected to meet SBI Chairman and Managing Director A K Purwar later.

''We still stick to our original demand for revising our pension ceiling, but in the interests of our customers and the national economy, we are agreeable to an interim agreement,'' Mr Patnaik said.

The unions had earlier demanded that the pension ceiling should be upped to 50 per cent of the last salary drawn, right from the position of messenger to the deputy managing director, but now they are ready to negotiate on the basis of pay-scales of respective designations.

Claiming that the strike was ''tremendously successful'' so far, Mr Patnaik said the unions have sought a personal audience with Union Finance Miinster P Chidambaram and a fax to this effect has been sent to him this morning.

Meanwhile, the Left parties demanded that the government must review the present pension scheme and find an amicable settlement in consultation with the unions.

''It is incumbent upon the Government of India to immediately intervene and see that there is a settlement on the legitimate demands of the employees,'' said CPI-(M) Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe, who is also the President of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions.

Dr Pandhe said the government had agreed that the employees would get 50 per cent of the last salary drawn as pension. The new scheme would cost each employee between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000, he added.

''This is why the employees are angry as their post-retirement life would be affected if the government insists on imposing this scheme. The other bank employees totalling 10 lakh would also join the agitation,'' he said.

In Andhra Pradesh, SBI Officers Staff Association Deputy General Secretary P K V Rangacharulu told UNI in Vijayawada that if the Centre took the initiative and called for talks, the employees and officers federations had no objection to discussing the issue.

To step up support to striking SBI employees, the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) Tamil Nadu unit appealed to its national body to call for a day's All India strike by employees and officers of various banks unions.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held under the Chairmanship of V Eswaran.

The meeting also decided to stage protest demonstrations at centres wherever alternate arrangements were made by other banks to conduct clearing house operations or government treasury business was conducted by the SBI.

Mr Easwaran said the meeting also decided to observe April 11 as 'Solidarity Day' by all bank employees and officers synchronising with the call already given by the AIBEA.

A day-long dharna and rally at various centres would be organised on April 12.

More UNI Team PK VC1815

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