Assam Government Employees to Ramp Up Protests for Old Pension Scheme Revival

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On Monday, numerous government employees in Assam collectively decided to escalate their protest, urging the reinstatement of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). Leaders from opposition parties and prominent figures in the state have thrown their weight behind the government employees, asserting that a sufficient pension is a fundamental right for workers.

This determination emerged from a meeting organized by the All Assam Government NPS Employees Association (AAGNPSEA) with the backing of the Joint Coordination Committee for OPS Assam and the Joint Forum for Restoration of OPS Assam, as stated in a press release.

The AAGNPSEA, in collaboration with other workers’ organizations and unions, has been conducting phased protests advocating for the revival of OPS in the state. Resolutions passed during the meeting included the call for the annulment of the National Pension System (NPS) and the provision of pensions to all state government workers, employees, and teachers under OPS.

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Furthermore, the gathering demanded the immediate repeal of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Act (PFRDA) Act of 2013. This legislation aims to establish an authority overseeing pension funds to ensure the financial security of subscribers.

Protesters argued that the NPS clauses within the PFRDA Act could pose challenges even if a state government reverts to OPS, emphasizing the necessity of repealing this law. The release disclosed that the conference also resolved to escalate their efforts if the state and central governments fail to positively respond to their demands, asserting that the interests of the working class must be safeguarded.

During the meeting, Akhil Ranjan Dutta, an author and Gauhati University professor, emphasized that economic and social control should not be concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest. He argued that the socio-economic discourse in the country is currently dictated by the top 1% of the population who are the richest.

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Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan revealed that a coalition of 15 opposition parties in the state, including the Congress, supports the restoration of OPS. He urged the movement to reach every corner of the country, emphasizing its impact on the lives of all workers.

CPI(M) leader Isfaqur Rahman pledged his party’s support for restoring OPS, condemning those advocating for NPS. AAGNPSEA president Achyutananda Hazarika claimed that most retirees under NPS receive meager pensions, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 a month, and highlighted the substantial number of government employees in Assam affected by the issue.

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