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UP: ‘Vote For OPS’, Govt Employees Coin Slogan After Yogi Govt Refuses to Restore Scheme

Around 16 lakh state employees -- sanitation workers to teachers, from paramedics at hospitals to other government staff – have threatened to launch an agitation.

Lucknow: The tussle between the Uttar Pradesh government and its employees shows no signs of ending. Employees are enraged after the government said it does not plan to bring back the old pension scheme (OPS) and have threatened to take out rallies next week, warning the government of the consequences ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls.  

In reply to a question raised by Samajwadi Party (SP) members Anil Pradhan and Pankaj Malik, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said in the Vidhan Sabha that the National Pension Scheme (NPS) in UP has been in operation since April 1, 2005 and that the government was not considering replacing it with the old pension scheme. 

Khanna said the UP government opted for NPS after proper study of the provisions of both the pension schemes. 

Pointing out the benefits of NPS, the minister said the new scheme had been formulated to benefit the employees. Besides, the government was continuing with other benefits given in the past like medical, health etc. So, there “is no point in restoring the old pension in the state.” 

"Initially, the employees and the employers’ contribution were 10% each, but the government’s contribution was increased to 14% in 2019 by the Yogi Adityanath government for the benefit of employees,” he said, adding that the decision to increase government's contribution was taken after multiple rounds of dialogue between employees and officials, who had demanded at least an 8% definitive interest rate be maintained on the pension fund. 

The minister claimed that “if an average of about 10 years is taken, then the employees are getting about 9.32% interest under the new scheme which is more than what they had demanded," he stressed.  

Meanwhile, the SP strongly condemned the anti-government employeeBharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, and subsequently the Opposition MLAs walked out of the house. 

Enraged at the finance minister’s replies, state employees, including teachers, police, revenue, who have been protesting for the last one year against NPS, said the OPS issue will pose a serious challenge to the BJP government in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha polls.  

Virendra Mishra, national spokesperson of Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh (RSM), told NewsClick: "Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath keeps on claiming that there is no dearth of funds, but when it comes to paying pension benefits to employees, it turns a blind eye. Besides, if the NPS is so beneficial, according to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna, then why are MLAs and MPs not availing the same? Can the PM bring an Act to deduct 1% of MLA, MPs salary for the mutual fund and share market, as it is done in case of NPS?" asked Mishra.

Harikishore Tiwari, member of the steering committee of 'Old Pension Restoration Forum' speaking to NewsClick said, "The movement will be intensified for the restoration of the OPS in the state and we will make the issue during Lok Sabha polls. Rath yatra for OPS is already underway and we are working on a new strategy to counter the government," said Tiwari.  

There are around 16 lakh state employees in Uttar Pradesh. From sanitation workers to teachers, from paramedics at hospitals to other government staff, everyone is seeking restoration of the old pension scheme.  

"We have given data of more than 500 employees with names and mobile numbers who just received Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 as a pension. If the government has increased its contribution under NPS then how come they have been receiving such a low amount. The government should give details of a single employee who has received a satisfactory pension. Basically, the government is lying and we will teach a lesson (to it) in the election if they are not considering restoring OPS," Tiwari who is also president of the State Employees Joint Council said.  

When asked about the next strategy, Tiwari said that around 16 lakh state employees will go on mass leave and stage chakka jam, gherao Vidhan Sabha and close railway, state department including income tax, passport, postal.  

A campaign to fill a form to go on strike will soon be run by the union leaders across the state, claimed Tiwari. 

Keeping in view their future after retirement, and saving them from NPS’ risks like downfall of share market in which their money was invested’, state employees are putting pressure on their government for OPS. 

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