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MANGALORE, April 8: Even as the nation-wide strike by the SBI staff entered the fifth day on Friday, the public opinion is turning against the striking employees.

That apart, the SBI customers, the corporates in particular, term it as an issue at their cost.

“The strike is unfair because the SBI staff is getting pension as a third retirement benefit.” For other bank staff, it is either pension or Provident Fund they get as retirement benefit, the Gratuity part being common to all.” told a retired bank employee.

The SBI, which handles 19 percent of the deposits and nearly 30 percent of customers in the Indian banking industry through its 9,000-odd branches are on an indefinite strike demanding hike in pension.

SBI ATMs have already become dry with no deposit of currency for the past five days. Though the customers can withdraw money from the ATMs of the 7 SBI Associate’s Banks, they have only few ATMs here.

While the State Bank of Mysore has a couple, the State Bank of Travancore has one whereas State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Hyderabad have none in Mangalore.

“We have geared up to meet the extra money demand at our ATMs,” said State Bank of Mysore regional manager Gangappa.

Accessing ATMs of other banks would cost extra charge for the SBI-ATM cardholders.

SBI is also reported to try for tie-ups with other banks such as HDFC Bank, UTI Bank, Indus Ind Bank and Punjab National Bank for withdrawing cash without paying extra charge. Unfortunately, there are only few such banks here.

However, the clearing operations in Mangalore have not been hit as it is run by the Corporation Bank.

“Currently we are not transacting any SBI instruments,” said a Corporation Bank officer.

But it would be too late for the SBI authorities, which has been directed by the Delhi High Court, to settle the issue by April 19.

The SBI employees, who are normally placed above other bank employees in terms of salary and pension, would too be losing their ground if their strike continues.

The Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry president A. Srinivas Rao has termed the indefinite strike by the SBI employees as economic terrorism.

In a statement issued here Rao said the strike had crippled the business activities especially the small industries.

“The restriction imposed on opening and operating multiple current accounts has made the situation worse for the entrepreneurs.

Many a SSI units are unable to make remittances for procuring raw materials, pay salaries and meeting day-to-day working capital needs,” the statement said.

Banks should not be allowed to hold the innocent public to ransom for no fault of theirs. Though the SBI employees are well paid, they contribute minimal to the society. What they are resorting to now is economic terrorism, the chamber president lambasted.

He appealed to the management to settle the issue at the earliest and not to charge on borrowings by the entrepreneurs.


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