Did Old Pension Scheme Emerge As A Big Factor In The 2024 General Elections Results?

Not only this, Farmers, Workers And Government Employees were ignored, opines C. Srikumar, veteran Trade Union Leader

Immediately after the election results www.indianpsu.com was the first to analyze the result with the perspective of Trade Unions and their unmet demands. We published an article yesterday in which the response of the Trade Union Leaders of the different sectors on the outcome of the election results and how the policy decision of the Government of Corporatization and Privatization have influenced the results of the Parliament election 2024 was given.

READ ALSO : https://indianpsu.com/post-election-results-will-strategic-disinvestment-drive-of-psus-and-psbs-hit-a-roadblock/

In the concluding portion of the article we have stated that another contentious issue before the New Government in the Centre would be whether to continue with the New Pension Scheme (NPS) or revert back to OPS since it has been a long standing demand of Trade Unions as well as Government employees. No doubt NPS is a major issue which more than 6 Crore Central Government and State Government employees including some of the Central Public Sector employees are fighting against. Their demand is to scrap the NPS and to restore the Defined and Guarantee Old Pension Scheme which was prevailing upto 31.12.2003.

The Contributory Pension Scheme has come as a big blow to the Government employees who are retiring, since the pension amount they are receiving from the NPS is no where near the Pension under Old Pension Scheme despite their contribution of 10% of their wages every month. The Government despite the 20 years agitation by the Government employees are bent upon not to restore the Old Pension scheme even though many opposition ruled states have restored the Old Pension scheme. Some leaders of the ruling party stated that NPS will not be an issue for the Parliament election. Did Government employees and their families express their anger through the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) in the recently concluded Parliament election against NPS ?

With this question, www.indianpsu.com approached C. Srikumar, a member of the Steering Committee of the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme and also a Senior Leader of the Central Government Employees. His response is published here.

C. Srikumar stated that today in one of the election analysis in a national daily it is stated that the BJP got a major set back in Lok Sabha Polls marked by farmers protest which has resulted in loss of 38 seats in five states. The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Arjun Munda lost by a big margin in Jharkhand. In many states the BJP leaders had not been able to conduct their campaign due to farmers protest. The Government especially in the second tenure of its Governance have ignored the farmers, the workers including the Government employees and unemployed youth. During my visit to several states during this period I observed the anger of the Central Government employees and the unemployed youth especially the Trade Apprentices of the various Government Industry like Railway and Defence due to NPS and not providing employment in Government. The Government employees including Group A officers and their family members are very much annoyed and upset with the New Pension Scheme since it takes away their pension right under the Old Pension Scheme and also creating an uncertain old age life, as immediately after their retirement the monthly pension is scaled down to Rs. 2000 to Rs.4000/- per month without any composition for price rise which is available in the Old Pension Scheme with 50% of the Last Basic Pay as Guaranteed Pension, to draw the attention of the Government the Central Government employees organizations including AIDEF and JFROPS have staged many protest demonstrations including a massive rally of more than 5 Lakh State Government & Central Government employees and their family members at Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi. Even a decision for in definite strike was also taken by the JFROPS which was subsequently deferred due to Parliament elections.

However, the anger amongst the younger generation of Central Government and State Government employees were visible through out the country. The BJP Government appointed a High Level Committee under the Finance Secretary only with the Terms of Reference to improve the NPS which was not the demand of the employees organizations. The other major issue which affected the workers is the passing of the New Labour Code by abolishing the various existing Labour Laws. The Congress party in its manifesto has given a commitment that if their party is elected to power then 30 Lakh post lying vacant in the Central Government Department and Organizations will be filled up. They also assured that they will abolish the Agni Veer System of recruitment in the Armed Forces. Many apposition parties including the left parties have also given similar assurance in their manifesto and also in their election campaigning.

No doubt this has attracted the unemployed youth of the Country. As far as NPS is concerned it played a vital role in deciding the votes of the State Government and Central Government employees which is evident from the results of postal ballots in many places. After the formation of a new Government they will once again approach and insists the Government that when the Judges, Armed forces are exempted from NPS and all the elected representatives to the Legislature and Parliament are getting Guaranteed Pension without any contribution, what is the justification for the Government to deny the benefit of Old Pension Scheme to its own employees. Even at the Group A officers level who joined in service in the NPS after 01.01.2004 are also at the level of Joint secretaries and Additional Secretaries in the various department of the Government. How far they will be able to influence the Government with regard to the Policy decision of the Government in going back to the Old Pension Scheme since they are also equally affected. In any case, the fact remains that the Government employees are a dissatisfied a lot not only because of NPS but because of so many other issue such as non payment of 18 months DA arrears which was frozen during Covid-19 pandemic, non implementation of various Court Judgement given in favour of the employees including notional increment for the purpose of Pension and other benefits to employees who retire during the month of June & December, non functioning of the JCM IR mechanism, Non merger of 50% DA with Basic Pay/Pension, appointment of the 8th Central Pay Commission, Restoration of the Commuted Pension after 12 years instead of 15 years, Not establishing CGHS wellness centers in every districts and so on. Can a government simply ignore its own employees and their Trade Unions.

Government employees are also citizen and voters of this Country and for them apart from their various protest and “Agitation Ballot” is another powerful weapon available with them in the democracy. So they have definitely expressed their discontentment in this election. Whether considering the ground reality the government which is going to take over will introspect the reasons for their down fall in the elections and restore the Old Pension Scheme and also consider the other demands of the employees and workers favorably in the coming days are has to wait and watch. In any case if the Government is still adamant on these issues the employees organizations have to restore back their Trade Union action programs, concluded C Srikumar.

Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, member of the Steering Committee of the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme and also a Senior Leader of the Central Government Employees

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