No Rise in Pension, No Vote to BJP
[Excerpts of key note address by Comrade Atul Dighe, Co-Convener of AICCEPFPA at the annual state conference of “Telangana All Pensioners’ and Retired Persons Association”]
My greetings to you all on behalf of pensioners of Maharashtra and 70 lakh plus EPF pensioners across the country. The pensioners and the Central Government are at loggerheads.
We demand pension is a benefit. The government says pension is a business.
We demand a wholesome pension. The government says only partial and meagre pension.
We, the pensioners, toiled to develop this country. The Government is not willing to share the
fruits of our labour with us.
The EPF pensioners, Coal Pensioners, Central Government and State Government employees
with New Pension Scheme (NPS) are victims of this anti-labour policy of the government. All these pensions are paltry and without any dearness allowance while the government has failed to keep control on prices.
The Vajpayee Government after coming to power in 1996 appointed a One Person Committee of Maneka Gandhi which recommended scrapping of Old Pension Scheme (OPS). Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the fag end of his regime implemented NPS by abolishing the OPS. All employees who joined the Central Government Services after 2004 are the victims of this policy. The states followed the footsteps of the central government. Now, with the introduction of the policy of Agniveer, the present government has practically completed the unfinished task of the Vajpayee government, by denying pension to our soldiers as well.
The Modi government after assuming power in 2014 amended the EPS 95 scheme against the interests of pensioners. While accepting the principle of minimum pension they allowed many deductions to it, thereby depriving the pensioners of even the minimum pension amount of Rs. 1000.
They introduced a pro-rata method for pension calculation. Thereby, they deprived a pension of Rs 2,500 to those retired after September 2014 and drawing a salary more than 15,000 a month. By introducing 60 months average for pensionable salary they reduced the pension for those drawing salary less than 15,000. They also revised the rule of higher pension option so as to deny anyone to get that benefit.
The organization in Kerala went to the High Court. The High court quashed these changes. The EPFO went on an appeal to the Supreme Court but lost the case. Still, the “Union Government of India” stepped in to prevent pensioners from getting benefits of this decision.
The Chief Justice of India Mr. Lalit, who acquitted Modi of several charges earlier, on the date of his retirement, along with two other judges, upheld the changes made to the scheme by the Modi led BJP government.
We must understand the anti-worker character of the Modi led BJP government.
The rate of suicides in Telangana and eastern parts of Maharashtra has not gone down. On the
contrary, this government tried to bring in farm laws to facilitate corporates like Adani to take over the agriculture. The farmers waged a pitched battle for 13 months and more. Finally, the Modi government was forced to beat a retreat by the militant struggles of farmers.
The pensioners in the country should also wage a similar consistent struggle against the policy to force the government to heed to the demands of the retired employees.
We have decided to -
· go to the MPs, half naked holding empty plate, empty bowl in April. We will ring the thali and say “Our plate is empty.”
· write a legal notice to the Prime Minister in May. The constitution of India gives every citizen the right to a dignified life. It places the responsibility on the Government.
· assemble in Maharashtra in the third national conference in June.
· paste on our doors a poster “pension ka jo kam na kare, Voh sarakar nikammee hai, Jo sarakar nikammee hai, voh sarakar badalanee hai.” in July.
· hoist the flag at Collector and Tehesil offices and start Fasting in August when the country completes its 75 years of independence.
· go to the workers to prepare them to rise in struggles in September.
· go for one day strike in October enrolling support from the Central Trade Unions.
· go on a campaign exposing the NPS and EPS in November.
· Organise Rail and Road Roko in December.
· No increase in pension, No vote to BJP - in January. We are determined to defeat the BJP in 2024 if the demands of pensioners are not fulfilled.
Let unite and struggle against the “Use and throw policy” of the Government.