Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Trade unions in Indian Railways and defence establishments have planned to hold a secret ballot on November 20 and 21 among about 12 lakh Indian Railways employees and 3.9 lakh civilian workers at various defence establishments, including ordnance factories, to seek their approval for an indefinite strike for the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and scrapping of the National Pension Scheme (NPS).
The ballot will be valid only if 75% members participate in it, and a strike can be called if two-thirds of the votes are polled in favour of it.
The union leaders are confident that majority of workers would support the ballot for strike as almost 60% of the total workforce of the Central government is covered under the NPS.
“We will not accept anything lesser than the restoration of OPS,” say the union leaders. “This time, the enthusiasm of workers is much more as 7.6 lakh young workers in Railways, who are under NPS, are not ready for any compromise such as increasing the pension amount given under the NPS,” they said.
About 60 unions working in Central government establishments and Central Public Sector Undertaking have come together to form the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS).
The JFROPS has planned to meet after the ballot to decide the date of serving the strike notice to the Centre. The plan is to begin the strike sometime in February 2024, before the announcement of the General Election.
The JFROPS and many organisations of the state government workers have been regularly holding demonstrations and rallies to demand replacement of the NPS with the OPS in state capitals as well as in Delhi. Many rallies have been held in Delhi to put pressure on the Central government for this purpose.
On November 3, thousands of government employees from across the country again held a rally at Delhi for the restoration of the OPS. They also demanded speedy recruitment to fill up lakhs of vacant government posts. This Chetavani Rally (Warning Rally) also called for an end to privatisation. The movement for reinstating the OPS also has the support of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). The BMS Is holding a workers’ rally here on November 22 with the same demand.