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SBI to hold talks with striking staff

Workers are on strike seeking revision of pension limit of Rs 4,250 a month.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 13:25 IST

State Bank of India will hold talks with trade union leaders on Wednesday to end a two-day old strike by bank employees to demand higher pension benefits, a senior bank official said.

Workers at government-run SBI, which employs more 200,000 staff at 9,000 branches across the country, are on indefinite strike seeking revision of a pension limit of Rs 4,250 rupees a month, which was last set in 1992.

"Reconciliatory talks are scheduled for Wednesday, probably we should know the result by evening," said the senior SBI official who did not want to be identified.

"Really speaking, the issue is not in our hands, but depends on the finance ministry," the official said, adding that management could not give an assurance to workers as the ministry alone decided on revisions.

No one at SBI was available for official comment.

The strike has affected trading in India's bond and currency markets, where SBI is the biggest player.

Volumes in both markets have fallen since the strike began on Monday.

The SBI official said the finance ministry was not willing to lift the ceiling on SBI staff pensions because that could lead to other state-run bank and insurance companies' staff demanding similar pension payments.

State-run companies account for about two-thirds of India's banking and insurance industries.

The strike has also affected cheque clearing and cash withdrawals have fallen, the official said.

SBI handles an average of 10 million transactions a day, including ATM withdrawals of about 1.5 billion rupees.

SBI management on Tuesday said it was waiving charges on use of ATMs of nine other banks with whom it has ATM sharing arrangements.

First Published: Apr 05, 2006 11:20 IST