GUWAHATI: Thousands of Assam government employees concluded their planned two-day protest on Wednesday, urging for the revival of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).
The members of the All Assam Government NPS Employees’ Association (AAGNPSEA), joined together for a “Karma Birati” (work cessation) at their respective workplaces throughout the state over the past forty-eight hours. Their collective action was a stance against the National Pension System (NPS).
“Despite our consistent efforts to bring attention to our appeal for the restoration of OPS, the government has remained unresponsive. Over the course of these two days, a considerable number of government employees, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, participated in the protests across the state,” AAGNPSEA President, Achyutananda Hazarika, was quoted as saying in the local press.
In a show of solidarity with their cause, these employees, who operate within the NPS framework, also presented petitions to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Hazarika added, “We hold out hope that the government will acknowledge the legitimacy of our request. Our union and all allied associations that stand with us have jointly decided that if our appeal doesn’t yield a positive response, we will escalate our efforts through a more rigorous campaign.”
According to Hazarika, a substantial portion of those who have retired under the NPS are currently receiving meagre pensions, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 per month.
The cause was championed by a multitude of other employee associations, spanning various sectors including education (from schools to colleges, encompassing both faculty and administrative staff), judicial services, district administrations, trade unions, railway workers, the healthcare sector, and treasury employees. Their unwavering support bolstered the two-day protest.
Hazarika highlighted that the state of Assam employs around five lakh government workers, of whom approximately 3.5 lakh are part of the NPS system.
Earlier on July 9, the decision to go on strike was unanimously taken during crucial meeting of 55 organisations including educators and employees. Various organisations, including the All Assam Heads of the Department Ministerial Officers’ Association, All Assam District Administration Employees Association, All Assam Transport Employees Association, and All Assam Primary Teachers Association, extended their support for the strike.