Lakhs of state government, semi government, teaching and non-teaching employees all across Maharashtra began an indefinite strike on 14th March. They are demanding that the Maharashtra government restore the Old Pension Scheme. The strike began after the failure of discussions held on 13th March, between Government, Semi government Teaching and Non-teaching Employees’ Coordination Committee Maharashtra with the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of the state.
In the meeting with the Steering Committee of employees, the deputy Chief minister used the oft repeated fraudulent argument that the government wants to take care of employees but it does not have money for that, and that if money is spent on pension, then various development projects will suffer. When the employees pointed out the fallacy of this argument, the deputy Chief minister who is also the Finance Minster of the state suggested that employees should accept a compromise solution. The representatives of the government employees pointed out to the minister that the so-called Guaranteed Pension Scheme (GPS) being offered as a compromise will mean a huge loss for the employees. They reiterated that employees will not accept anything but the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). The Press release released by the co-ordination committee on 13th March also clarifies that the state government employees play an important role in ensuring implementation of various government initiatives and hence money spent for their salary, social security etc. is also money spent for development. The workers are condemning the state government for labelling their salary as “excessive expense”.
According to the reports received, work in various state government departments, municipal corporations, zilla parishads, etc., all across the state of Maharashtra, has been seriously affected. Nurses, ward boys and other health workers have also joined the agitation due to which work in a large number of government health clinics and hospitals has been seriously affected. Teachers and non-teaching staff have also struck work across Maharashtra. Teachers have declared that they will boycott paper correction duty if the government refuses to concede the just demand of workers. All across the state, different sections of workers are holding demonstrations demanding the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme. They are daring the government to try to prevent the strike.
Many other unions and organisations like the Maharashtra State Electricity Workers, Engineers and Employees Co-Ordination Committee, CITU, Kamgar Ekta Committee, AITUC and some Railway unions have declared their support for the strike.
Social security during old age in the form of pension, is a right that belongs to all workers. The struggle of Maharashtra workers is a just struggle which deserves the support of the entire working class and people.