Nagpur/Mumbai: Government and semi-government employees of Maharashtra, including teachers, agitating for restoration of the old pension scheme, on Monday called off their week-long strike after a successful meeting between their representatives and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over key demands. The striking unions’ coordination committee’s convener Vishwas Katkar said the State Government has in principle agreed to give monetary benefits equivalent to the OPS to employees who are part of the New Pension System (NPS).
Katkar also appealed to employees that they should resume work from Tuesday. Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the employees’ decision to call off the strike. He also expressed gratitude to CM Shinde. “We understand the issue of employees. We did not stand on prestige in this matter and listened to the employees. I also wanted to underscore that they are all our employees. We will try to give them as much as we can. It is our responsibility.”
“A committee is working on the pension issues of the government employees. It will submit its report on 3 to 4 salient points; accordingly we will take further action. I have always felt that solutions can be found only through talks,” Fadnavis added.
The Chief Minister Shinde informed the Legislative Assembly: “Today, we had a meeting with the members of employee organisations. They gave a positive response to my proposal. We will take an immediate decision after receiving the report by the committee, which has been formed in this regard.”
A total of 17 lakh Government employees were on an indefinite strike from March 14 demanding restoration of the OPS, which was discontinued in 2005. Employees from 36 districts had joined the strike.
Last Monday, the CM had announced a panel comprising senior bureaucrats to look into the demand of the government employees to revert to the old pension scheme. But Katkar had refused to play along. He had said that in 2018, a similar protest was held and the panel had submitted its report but no action was taken. In 2022 also, the employees had gone on strike but there was no progress.
OPS retirement scheme is approved by the Central Government which provides monthly pension to beneficiaries till the end of their service. Under this, the amount of pension is equal to half of the last salary drawn by an individual. It was replaced by contribution-based and market-linked NPS in 2004-2005, under which the beneficiaries will be able to withdraw 60 per cent of the amount invested after retirement.