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Saturday, Jan 31, 2004

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Syndicate Sabbatical from February 1

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram , Jan. 30

THE two-to-four year `sabbatical' being offered to the staff of Syndicate Bank would be implemented from February 1, according to Mr Michael Bastian, Chairman and Managing Director.

Explaining the circumstances leading to structuring of the scheme, Mr Bastian said that, on assuming charge, he had ventured to "speak directly" with the 14,000-strong family on what it needed to do for solving "bank-specific'' problems.

"It is one thing for the Indian Banks Association to fix the wages for employees. It is an entirely different thing to expect the bank being able to foot the bill".

The second aspect of the matter was a rumoured second VRS. "I have repeatedly been saying that there's no question of a second VRS. I just need officers and other staff to take care of the emerging business potential", Mr Bastian said.

It is for those who find it inconvenient to adjust with the office routine that the management has come out with a bank-specific solution. Normally, what such people need is a transfer to a suitable place. What the bank is now saying is that they need not even ask for a transfer. "They can sit back and enjoy the convenience of home, even while being able to draw almost the entire take-home salary for periods ranging from two years and up to four years. Instalments of house loans availed, if any, would be kept in abeyance. Those opting for the scheme can start paying it back after returning to office", Mr Bastian said.

Syndicate Bank was the first public sector bank to go for a centralised banking solution. In a networked environment, the customer of the branch becomes the customer of the bank. The bank has 65 such branches; by March, this will be raised to 150, and by next year, 250. This will take care of 50 per cent of the requirements of the elite customers who are in need of transferring funds and operating their accounts in all parts of the country, he said.

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