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SBI unions show how to make the most of strikes

April 03, 2009 09:23 IST

It's going to be a four-day weekend for the officers of five associate banks of SBI - State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur.

The officers are planning to go on a two-day strike on April 11 and 13 to press for their demands of justice, fair-play, equal treatment and good industrial relations, Harsha Vardhan Madabhushi, general secretary of the Associate Banks' Officers Association, told reporters.

What he did not mention was that April 10 is a holiday on account of Good Friday, while April 12 is a Sunday. So, the two-day strike will be on Saturday and Monday, giving the officers of the five banks a long weekend.

Last week, a PTI report had said that even SBI officers were planning to go on a two-day strike starting April 8, which - if clubbed with the Good Friday holiday - would mean a three-day holiday. And, those who take a casual leave on April 11, can plan a five-day vacation. In recent years, with bank unions losing their clout, they have resorted to clubbing strikes with public holidays and weekends to get more employees to participate in protests.

Madabhushi said that the strike is to oppose the discriminatory treatment meted out to the officers of associate banks by the management of State Bank of India, and deviating from well-established practices and bilateral understandings in the matter of extending fringe benefits among others.

"The SBI management is deliberately withholding legitimate benefits as an arm-twisting tactic, only because the officers of the associate banks are opposing the SBI proposal to merge them with itself," he added.

While SBI has completed the merger of State Bank of Saurashtra with itself, it has plans to follow a similar strategy with the other associate banks to increase its size and avoid duplication. The move will be pushed only after assessing the impact of the SBI-SBS merger, the country's largest bank has said.

BS Reporter in Mumbai