GUWAHATI, Nov 8 (PTI): Thousands of Assam government employees on Tuesday staged a protest meeting here, demanding re-introduction of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and warned the authorities of intensifying the agitation if their demand is not met within this month.
While employees from various districts reached the city for the meeting held under the aegis of the All Assam Government NPS Employees’ Association (AAGNPSEA), leaders and members of workers’ federations from other states of the country also joined them as a show of solidarity.
“Our demand is simple. We want restoration of the OPS. It was the single proposal adopted at today’s protest meeting and we have forwarded the demand to the chief minister,” AAGNPSEA president Achyutananda Hazarika told PTI.
Assam has around five lakh government employees, out of which around 2.4 lakh are under the New Pension Scheme (NPS).
“We have been assured that the government will look into our demand. But if we do not get any positive response by November 30, we will have to intensify our agitation,” he added.
Hazarika said the protestors had assembled at the Veterinary College Field in Khanapara area of the city for a nearly five-kilometre-long march towards Dispur, the seat of power, but the authorities did not allow them.
“We did not want to cause any law and order situation as we are government employees. Hence, we decided to abide by the instruction of the authorities this time. But if our demand is not fulfilled, we will have to resort to more intensified protest,” he said.
The AAGNPSEA president said leaders of the National OPS Restoration United Forum, and from employees’ association of Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh also participated in the protest.
Representatives from different trade unions of railways, banks and postal departments were also present, he claimed.
Lakhs of Assam government employees had observed ‘Karma Birati’ (cessation of work) at their respective workplaces on August 22, also under the aegis of AAGNPSEA, demanding scrapping of the New Pension Scheme (NPS) and restoration of the old one.
The Association has claimed that retired employees under the NPS get a very nominal amount every month as pension, through which sustenance is not possible.
Its agitational programmes proposed in June and July were postponed due to an invitation for a discussion by the Assam finance minister. As no ‘favourable action’ followed the discussion, the association launched the protest meeting.