Employees of the State Bank of India will go on an indefinite strike countrywide from Monday demanding enhanced pension package.
"The Finance Minister P Chidambaram has been maintaining that he does not want to interfere with the working of Reserve Bank of India but on the contrary, his ministry has overlooked the recommendations of RBI by not approving the enhanced pension scheme that is generated from our own internal resources," senior bank union leader V K Gupta said.
Gupta, who is the senior vice-president of All India SBI Staff Federation, said since there was no communication from the finance ministry, "we are going ahead with the indefinite strike from March 3."
Meanwhile, the federation general secretary Prafulla Patnaik said the 200-year-old bank has been generating its own resources for pension and has a corpus of Rs 8,800 crore (Rs 88 billion) and the government had to only give its statutory approval for enhancing the pension package from the current ceiling of Rs 4,200 per month to 50 per cent of the last drawn basic salary.
He said the revised package for 75,000 beneficiaries of the SBI pension scheme would only increase by Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion).
"Out of a corpus of Rs 8,800 crore (Rs 88 billion), only an additional amount of Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.8 billion) annually will be required," Patnaik said, adding the current spending for the purpose stood at Rs 120 crore (Rs 1.2 billion) per year.
The federation has also asked the bank to voluntarily keep the branches open on Sunday to save the public from inconvenience in the wake of the strike from Monday.
It claimed that over 200,000 employees, including officers, will strike work for an indefinite period till their demand for pension revision is met.
The strike will be confined to SBI and associate banks will not be affected, president of the union Vinesh Naik said.
However, United Federation of Bank Unions has promised support to the strike, he said, adding UFBU may also give a one-day strike call later in solidarity with the SBI employees.
SBI employees are demanding revision of pension, which they say was last hiked in 1992.
Do you want to discuss stock tips? Do you know a hot one? Join the Stock Market Discussion Group