TORCH/CANDLE RALLY PROTESTING AGAINST NATIONAL PENSION SCHEME (NPS) IN INDIA
In response to the clarion call given by Com Shiva Gopal Mishra, Convener, National Joint Council of Action (NJCA) and Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS), Trade unions across India conducted Torch/Candle light rallies on 21st May 2023 protesting against the National Pension Scheme (NPS).
It may be noted that The National Pension System is a defined-contributory pension system in India regulated by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) which is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Finance, Government of India. As in January 2023 there were 23,65,693 Central Govt Employees and 60,32,766 all State Govt employees as NPS Subscribers. All employees joined on or after 01st January 2004 were brought under NPS.
In the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) a retiring employee is eligible and assured of 50% of his/her last drawn pay and fixed pension whereas NPS is an investment cum pension scheme, The NPS contributions are invested in securities, i.e., debt and equity market linked instruments. As per the scheme, retiring employees receive 60% of the accumulated contributions as a lump sum and the remaining 40% is distributed as a monthly pension. Thus it does not guarantee a fixed pension.
In view of the above various State and Central Govt employees' trade unions across India have been protesting and are demanding the scrapping of NPS and restoration of OPS.
After various protests some of the State Governments such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh had NPS and have reverted to OPS for their employees. Apart from these State Governments of Jharkand and Punjab have also announced implementation of OPS. Shortly Karnataka State Govt may also switch over to OPS for benefit of their employees.
In view of the above various Central and State Govt Employees Federations in India met on 21st January 2023 and formed a Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS) with convener being Com Shiva Gopal Mishra, General Secretary, All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF) - The Oldest and Largest Federation of Indian Railways in its centenary year and chalked out programmes to achieve the legitimate demand of Achievement of OPS.
On 18th March 2023, Com Shiva Gopal Mishra launched a digital campaign under the aegis of International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) in Johannesburg, South Africa with all the Railway Affiliates of ITF supporting and participating in the campaign. Other sectors such as Seafarers, Dock workers, Urban Transport workers, Road Transport workers, Aviation sector workers and Tourism sector workers too pledged support to this digital campaign, which in days to come will become a Global movement.
As a part of this programme Torch/Candle light rallies were held by various federations on 21st May 2023 protesting against the National Pension Scheme (NPS). AIRF and affiliates conducted Torch/Candle light rallies in all the 17 Zones and 8 production units.
Com Shiva Gopal Mishra addressing a rally at Lucknow stated that "It is the responsibility of the employer to take care of an employee and his family's welfare, safety and social security. Since a worker sacrifices his life for the progress of the employer/organization" The crowd cheered and slogans rented the air expressing huge support to the movement.
General Secretaries and Presidents of AIRF affiliates led huge torch/candle light rallies in their respective zones with placards reading "NPS GO BACK", "WE WANT OPS","SCRAP NPS", "REVOKE OPS", "NPS DOWN DOWN", "PENSION IS OUR DIGNITY & RESTORE OUR DIGNITY" and "OPS IS OUR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT".