People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 09, 2006
SBI Strike: Onus Of Settlement On Finance Ministry
The following is the text of the statement issued by the CITU secretariat on April 5, 2006:
The indefinite strike by the employees and officers of the State Bank of India is on their demands relating to pensionary benefits. The demands include, inter-alia, the following: Pension at 50 per cent of the last drawn salary; commutation on par with industry; index-linked dearness allowance on pension on par with industry; and upgradation of basic pension of all past retirees taking into account the current merger of index at 2,288 points. The State Bank of India (SBI) was the first institution in the entire banking industry to have a pension scheme for its staff in place. However, with no revision of the pensionary benefits for around two decades, the situation had undergone much change over time with pension payment to retiring employees having practically lost any linkage with their last pay drawn. The present strike by the staff of SBI is on seeking parity with others in the industry.
Though the striking staff had indicated willingness for a negotiated settlement, it is really the unrelenting stance taken by the finance ministry that is responsible for the present impasse. Neither the management of SBI nor the conciliation machinery of the labour ministry can move things forward, unless the finance ministry gives its nod to the demands of the SBI staff, shedding its ego and reversing its illogical irrational stance.
The CITU, therefore, places the onus for the continuation of the strike in SBI, with all its attendant consequences, squarely at the doors of the finance ministry.
The CITU extends its wholehearted support to the ongoing strike of the SBI staff and demands the intervention of the prime minister by way of directing the finance ministry to meet the genuine demands related to social security. It will be better for the government to also revisit the long pending issue of the employees of other banks as well for an opportunity to exercise option for the pension scheme, if it is keen on averting a similar situation in the entire banking sector.