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Government Employees Prepare for Indefinite Strike Demanding Restoration of Old Pension Scheme

A consortium of trade unions and associations representing approximately 28 lakh Union government employees, including those from the Railways and Central Public Sector Undertakings, along with over three crore employees and teachers from state governments, is gearing up for an indefinite strike starting May 1. The primary demand behind the strike is the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) in place of the current National Pension Scheme (NPS).

The decision to proceed with the strike was unanimously taken by the steering committee of the Joint Forum For Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS), which plans to serve strike notices to respective administrations on March 19.

Shiv Gopal Mishra, the Convener of JFROPS and General Secretary of All India Railwaymen’s Federation (AIRF), stated that talks with the Centre regarding the issue had collapsed, leading to the decision for the strike. Despite repeated protests, letters to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and discussions in Joint Consultative Machinery (JCM) meetings, the government has neglected their demands.

Ahead of the strike call, strike ballots were conducted in Railways, various departments, and PSUs under the Centre, with unions claiming nearly 100% support from employees.

General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation, C. Srikumar, expressed discontent over the government’s insensitivity towards their genuine grievances. He noted the disparity in treatment, citing the recommendation of defined and guaranteed pension for judges by the Judicial Pay Commission while government employees continue to face the uncertainty of the National Pension Scheme.

Mishra emphasized that the strike was necessitated by the government’s indifference to their demands, and all unions except the pro-government Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) will participate.

Regarding the timing of serving the strike notice amidst the possibility of the model code of conduct for general elections, Mishra highlighted the importance of the OPS issue and urged for its discussion during elections, even if the model code of conduct is in effect. He expressed hope that the government would address their demands, considering the significant impact on millions of lives.

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