Thousands of government employees and pensioners from across India protested at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on Friday, demanding the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). They threatened an indefinite strike if their demand is not met.
The OPS was replaced by the New Pension Scheme (NPS) in 2004 for all government employees who joined service after January 1, 2004. Under the OPS, government employees receive a defined pension after retirement, based on their last salary. Under the NPS, employees contribute a portion of their salary to a pension fund, and their pension after retirement is based on the performance of the fund.
Employees and pensioners argue that the NPS is a risky scheme and that they do not get adequate pension after retirement. They also argue that the OPS is a more sustainable scheme in the long term.
The Congress and other Opposition parties have promised to restore the OPS in the States and at the Centre if voted back to power. Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments have already announced that they will scrap the NPS and go back to the OPS.
The employees who participated in the protest on Friday are affiliated with the Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers, All India State Government Employees Federation, School Teachers Federation of India and National Coordination Committee of Pensioners Associations. They also demanded the government to stop contractualisation of jobs, fill more than 60 lakh government and PSU vacancies, clear DA arrears, protect trade union rights and scrap the national education policy.
The government has not yet responded to the demands of the employees and pensioners. However, the protests are likely to put pressure on the government to reconsider its position on the OPS.
The seven points Charter of Demands in pursuant of which the agitations are going on, and the rally was held, are as under