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SBI workers stay on strike as talks fail

More than 200,000 employees are on strike around the country over pension.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 16:56 IST

A strike at the country's largest public sector bank for better pensions went into its fourth day Thursday after talks with the government failed, a State Bank of India union official said.

"Last night we were with the chairman of the state bank but it was inconclusive," said VK Gupta, vice president of the State Bank of India employees union.

"Today there are no talks," he said, speaking from a rally of several hundred bank employees in the Indian capital's commercial centre.

More than 200,000 employees are on indefinite strike around the country, union officials said, paralysing the bank's 9,000 branches.

"We have 210,000 officers and workers with us on strike," Himanshu Kapoor, deputy general secretary of the State Bank of India Officers Association in New Delhi, said earlier this week.

The State Bank of India handles 19 per cent of deposits and 30 per cent of customers in the banking industry.

A spokesman for the Finance ministry would not comment on the impact of the strike but major disruption has been reported with customers forced to seek out other ATMs and bank cheques not cleared.

Talks broke down last month with unions seeking a hike in the standard pension rate which has remained at Rs 4,250 ($96) a month for the past decade.

The bank, founded in 1806 under British colonial rule, faces tough competition with new Indian and multinational banks setting up shop since economic reforms began in 1991.

First Published: Apr 06, 2006 14:02 IST