M A I N   N E W S

SBI strike called off
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The week-long strike by State Bank of India employees was called off tonight following a settlement, which gives higher pension to 2.10 lakh staff of the country’s largest commercial bank.

Announcing the settlement after a marathon meeting, which lasted more than 10 hours, between Finance Ministry, striking workers and SBI management here, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters that the employees getting up to Rs 21,040 salary will get 50 per cent of last drawn pay as pension and above that 40 per cent.

Earlier, the cut-off salary for 50 per cent pension was Rs 8,500, which has been raised to Rs 21,040. Beyond this salary, employees will get 40 per cent of their basic as pension subject to a minimum of Rs 10,520 a month.

The cut-off of Rs 21,040 will work out to be Rs 21,800 if personal qualification allowance of about Rs 700 is included.

Following the settlement, Chidambaram said the employees had called off their strike and would resume work from tomorrow.

Satisfied with the outcome, All-India SBI Staff Federation Secretary P. K. Patnaik said all pending work due to the strike would be cleared so that customers were not put to any inconvenience.

To a question, the union leader said the employees would not claim salary for the strike period.

SBI Chairman A. K. Purwar said losses suffered due to the strike were “enormous”, but he cannot quantify them.

He said the bank would talk to the state governments, which have shifted their business from the SBI to other PSU banks, to get their business back.

The details of the bilateral settlement would be worked out after Purwar reaches Mumbai tomorrow, Chidambaram said, adding that all that had been resolved today was the thorny issue of “unrealistic” cut-off for pension.

He said the settlement was unlikely to spark off “competitive demand” from other nationalised banks and public sector undertakings.

“Other nationalised banks have their own formula and the SBI has separate pension formula. The wage settlement of banks clearly stated that pension clause will not apply to the SBI, which will be settled separately.

“The cut-off salary of Rs 8,500 for 50 per cent pension on last drawn salary was fixed some years ago and related to pay scales of 1992. I always held it was outdated and irrelevant,” he said.

“This was an unfinished task since the 2005 settlement, which was completed today,” the Finance Minister said.

Expressing regret over the inconvenience caused to customers during the strike, Chidambaram said: “Customers have been put to some inconvenience. They should understand the circumstances... I have no doubt all this will be removed beginning tomorrow.”

All-India SBI Officers’ Federation general secretary Shanta Raju said it was an “absolutely negotiated settlement for the mutual benefit of all. All pending work will be cleared at the earliest.”

On financial implications of the settlement, Chidambaram said it was within the capacity of the SBI. “Only we are readjusting the cut-off point.”

“This is a very satisfactory conclusion... I compliment both the management and the unions for reaching the agreement.”


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