80,000 officers of State Bank, associates strike work

August 18th, 2008 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata/Mumbai/Chennai, Aug 18 (IANS) About 80,000 officers of the State Bank of India (SBI) and its seven associate banks went on a nationwide strike Monday to protest the government’s decision to merge the State Bank of Saurashtra with the parent bank. Officers’ associations at multiple centres said the strike was a total success. In a show of solidarity, other public sector bank officers will stop work Aug 20, according to All-India State Bank Officers Federation president T.N. Goel.

“The strike was 100 percent successful in the Bengal circle,” S.K. Haldar, general secretary of the SBI Officers’ Association (Bengal circle), told IANS.

The SBI has 840 branches in Bengal circle, which also includes Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Around 5,000 officers across these branches stayed away from work.

Added Mumbai circle’s association general secretary P.V.Dighule: “The strike has been cent percent successful. More than 1,000 branches of the SBI and associates remained closed, and around 8,000 officers participated.”

The strike was also a total success in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, where 4,000 officers struck work. None of the SBI and its associates’ branches - more than 900 - transacted business during the day.

The central government July 24 approved the merger, which had been long delayed on account of opposition from various SBI unions.

Haldar said officers opposed the merger as it was against people’s interest.

“This is a token strike. If the government and the bank management do not listen to our demands, we may go for an indefinite strike from September,” he added.

According to him, such mergers reduce the number of branches and jobs, which in turn affect banking services.

“The strike is also against merger of any other SBI associate bank with the SBI,” added Rishabadas, the association’s Chennai Circle general secretary.

The associate banks were established with the specific purpose of providing credit facilities in the interior parts of erstwhile princely states.

Unions say this will suffer if mergers continue.

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