Report by Mazdoor Ekta Committee correspondent
On 10th August 2023, more than one lakh workers from various government sectors raised their voice in the ‘Pension Adhikar Maharally’ at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, demanding the implementation of the old pension scheme.
The Maharally was organized under the leadership of the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS) – National Joint Council of Action (NJCA). It consists of around 30 organizations of public sector employees.
Workers from various sectors, such as railways, postal, defence, education, banks, insurance etc. participated in this Maharally. They were holding placards in their hands which read – ‘Neither more, nor less, we want old pension!’, ‘I am also entitled to old pension!’, Our future old pension!’, Old age support Pension!’, ‘Long Live Labor Unity!’, ‘Only one Mission, Old Pension!’, ‘NPS! Go back!’ etc.
Addressing the rally, the leaders of various organizations demanded in one voice the abolition of the new pension scheme and implementation of the old pension scheme. The announcement of the forum was clear and loud that an indefinite strike would be organized if the demand for restoration of the old pension scheme was not met.
The railway workers participating in the rally pointed out that the employees recruited before 2004 were guaranteed a fixed pension (50 per cent of the last pay) at the time of retirement under the old pension scheme, while the amount of pension they would get in the new pension scheme is not certain. It completely depends on the stock market and the insurance company.
National Convener of NJCA and General Secretary of All India Railway Men’s Federation (AIRF) Shiv Gopal Mishra, said that those who have joined government service after January 1, 2004, are strongly opposing the New Pension Scheme (NPS). Our only demand from the government is that it should implement our old pension scheme, otherwise this large number of workers that have come to Delhi today, will organize masses to jam the whole country as well as shut down it down.
Before 2004 the old pension scheme was in force. Under that, government employees got a fixed pension after retirement. That pension was based on the employee’s salary at the time of retirement. In that scheme, after the death of the retired employee, his family members were paid a pension. But the government has closed that scheme on April 1, 2004 and implemented a new pension scheme – National Pension Scheme (NPS).
The Forum proposed a road map for the future campaign for the abolition of the National Pension Scheme (NPS) and the restoration of the Guaranteed Old Pension Scheme. The rally passed the resolution unanimously.
It was decided that on 21st August, 21st September and 21st October, joint meetings, rallies, processions, dharnas, seminars etc. would be organised. On 21st– 22nd November 2023, secret ballots will be taken from all the constituent organizations for the ‘indefinite strike’ in support of the single point demand of cancellation of the new pension scheme that gives no guarantee and for restoration of the old guaranteed pension scheme.
After the rally, a joint memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister of the country and the government. The memorandum demanded cancellation of the National Pension Scheme (NPS) and implementation of the old pension scheme for all central and state government employees, teachers, etc., irrespective of their date of appointment.