Guwahati: Lakhs of Assam government employees started a two-day protest on Tuesday demanding re-introduction of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and said the state government can do it provided it has the will.
Employees under the aegis of the All Assam Government NPS Employees’ Association (AAGNPSEA) started ‘Karma Birati’ (cessation of work) agitation at their respective workplaces to protest against the National Pension System (NPS).
“The NPS views the pension system as a business and pensioners as some trading material. It is against the ethos and traditions of our country. We are a welfare state and we cannot allow this foundation to erode,” AAGNPSEA president Atulananda Hazarika said.
“We have launched this two-day protest from today to press for our demand of re-introduction of OPS and if our demand goes unheeded, as it has been so far, we will start more intensified agitations,” he added.
Dozens of other associations of government employees from schools and colleges — including faculty and office staff, judicial services, district administrations, trade unions, railways union, health sector and treasury among others have extended their support to the two-day agitation.
Hazarika said the government assumes its responsibility when it comes to giving pension to MPs, MLAs, journalists, artists, etc., but when it comes to paying pension to its employees, it becomes a ‘financial burden’.
“The Assam government’s refusal to accept our demand has led us to this path of agitation. The state government can easily reinstate the OPS if it wants to,” the AAGNPSEA chief said, adding that states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have already done it.
Hazarika had earlier told PTI that most of the people who have retired under the NPS are getting pensions of Rs 500, Rs 600, Rs 1,000 or maximum Rs 3,000 a month.
He claimed that Assam has around five lakh government employees, out of which around 3.5 lakh are under the NPS.