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  • Old Pension Scheme demand: Punjab CM to meet employees’ union on Jan 4 | Chandigarh News

Old Pension Scheme demand: Punjab CM to meet employees’ union on Jan 4 | Chandigarh News

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann Saturday agreed to meet representatives of state government employees seeking implementation of the old pension scheme (OPS). The meeting has been scheduled for January 4.

Earlier in the day, members of the Contributory Pension Federation Employees Union (CPFEU) held a rally at YPS Chowk in Mohali over the OPS demand.

Employees belonging to over 50 government departments participated in Saturday’s protest rally. Employees who are already under the OPS (recruited before 2004), and pensioners also extended their support to CPFEU members.

CPFEU General Secretary Ranbir Singh Dhande said, “After holding the rally, we marched towards the CM’s residence in Chandigarh and removed the barricades kept on the way. Later, we staged a dharna at the Mohali-Chandigarh border and during that protest we were given time to meet the CM on January 4. We categorically said that we will not meet anyone else except the CM.”

“A panel of 8-10 CPFEU members will meet the CM on January 4. We expect that this meeting will not be postponed like many other meetings,” said CPFEU (Punjab) President Sukhjit Singh.

Festive offer

Amit Arora, additional general secretary of Punjab State Ministerial Services Union (PSMSU), said, “Our union also supported this cause but on January 4, members of only CPFEU will be going to meet the CM. Let’s see what happens on that day.”

He added, “The Punjab government had announced the implementation of the OPS on October 22 last year ahead of Himachal Pradesh polls and a notification was issued on November 18, 2022, ahead of Gujarat polls as the CPFEU had announced protests… However, later, they (the government) formed a committee to study the implementation of OPS in states like Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand but they haven’t done anything positive so far. However, they keep making false claims in other states that they have implemented OPS in Punjab. The Himachal Pradesh government was formed in December last year and they have already implemented OPS while the AAP government in Punjab was formed in March 2022. Now they are talking about a financial crunch but why did they promise it in the first place if they couldn’t give it?”

Notably, around 1.86 lakh government employees recruited after 2004 fall under the new pension scheme (NPS).

‘Advantages of implementation of OPS’

According to CPFEU members, under the NPS, 10 per cent of the basic salary is deducted from the employee’s salary as the employee’s provident fund contribution while 14 per cent is added to the pension corpus by the government and the money remains with the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), which is a central government organisation. Under it, money is invested in stocks as per the guidelines of the Centre.

“However, under OPS, an employee can get up to Rs 5 lakh per annum deposited in GPF and the money remains with the state government till the retirement of the employee,” explained Sukhjit Singh.

He further said, “We want to remind Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal that on November 26, 2018, a nationwide rally was organised at Ram Leela Ground where CM Kejriwal himself came on our stage and supported our demand for restoring OPS. Today, his party is ruling in Punjab and they are playing politics in the name of OPS.”

It needs to be noted that the Punjab government had in the past stated that it was mulling to have its own pension policy rather than depend on the Union government for the implementation of OPS.

Dharnas by Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha

Eight farm labourer unions under the banner of Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha (SMM) Saturday started a three-day protest outside the houses of four cabinet ministers in Punjab over various demands.

“In Lambi constituency of Muktsar district, we started the 72-hour protest outside the house of Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian. In the Dirba constituency of Sangrur district, the protest started outside the house of Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema. In the Jandiala constituency in Amritsar district, we protested outside the house of Power Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO. While in Kartarpur constituency of Jalandhar district, the protest is being held outside the house of Local Bodies Minister Balkar Singh,” said Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) General Secretary Lachhman Singh Sewewala.

Notably, most ministers have a double entry at their residences and only one entry will remain blocked by protestors for the next 72 hours. Interestingly, Khuddian was in Lambi to distribute allotment letters of five marla plots to 109 farm labourer families.

“This is also one of our demands, good that he (Khuddian) did something under the pressure of protest,” added Sewewala.

He further said, “BKU Ugrahan also supported us in Muktsar and Sangrur districts. As the Punjab CM says that we should organise protests outside the houses of ministers, MLAs and the chief minister himself instead of blocking roads, we did the same.”

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