Thousands of government employees took part in a protest at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on Sunday to seek the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, PTI reported.
The protest – termed as a “Pension Shankhnaad Maharally” – was organised by the National Movement for Old Pension Scheme, an umbrella body that claims to represent the interests of over 14 lakh central and state government employees.
In the Old Pension Scheme, employees get 50% of their last drawn basic pay plus dearness allowance on retirement. Under this system, employees do not have to contribute to their pensions on their own.
Under the New Pension Scheme, individual savings are pooled into funds during the employment period. Individuals can choose from a range of schemes promoted either by public sector banks or private companies.
Five states – all of them currently ruled by constituents of the Opposition INDIA alliance – have reverted to the Old Pension Scheme. These states are Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Another state, West Bengal, never opted for the New Pension Scheme.
Shiv Gopal Mishra, national convener of the All India Railway Men’s Federation, said on Sunday that employees who joined service after January 1, 2004 are strongly opposing the New Pension Scheme, according to PTI. “The employees are worried about their future after retirement because they have been deprived of the Old Pension Scheme and forced into the New Pension Scheme,” he said.
Several Opposition parties expressed support for the protest at Ramlila Maidan. The Congress said that the Old Pension Scheme is the right of employees. “Congress governments in states have given the Old Pension Scheme,” it said. “Our policy on this is clear – employees must get their rights. The Modi government must implement the Old Pension Scheme, and honour those who serve the country.”
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal also said his party strongly supports the protestors’ demand. “[New Pension Scheme] is an injustice against employees,” he said. “We have implemented OPS in Punjab and have written to Centre for implementing it for [Delhi] govt employees. Some other non-BJP govts have also implemented OPS.”