Government employees ranging from sanitation workers, hospital staff as well as teachers have been protesting since March 14, accusing the government of sheer ignorance of their demands
The old pension scheme (OPS), a retirement beneficiary scheme, is at the core of the many demands made by the employees. Before it was abolished in January 2004, OPS would provide employees 50 percent of their last salaries as a monthly pension until the end of their life services.
Other demands of the employees include filling approximately 237,000 vacant posts in the government, regularizing contract employees, and increasing the superannuation age from fifty-eight to sixty.
According to state government employees’ unions, approximately 17 lakh government employees in Maharashtra went on an indefinite strike Tuesday, demanding a return to the old pension scheme (OPS).
As the strike entered its fourth day on Friday, essential services, including healthcare, have been severely affected. The strike is also thought to delay the evaluation of the ongoing SSC and HSC board exams.
Under pressure from state employees and opposition parties, the Maharashtra government announced on Tuesday the formation of a three-member committee to conduct a comparative study of the old and new pension schemes and submit a time-bound report.
However, Vishwas Katkar, convenor of the committee of some thirty-five unions of state government employees, semi-government employees, and teachers, told Mint, "Our strike will continue until the Maharashtra government implements the Old Pension Scheme. We do not accept the three-member committee appointed by the government (to investigate the issue)."
On Thursday, the government decided to hire highly qualified, skilled, semi-skilled labor from private agencies on a contractual basis as part of a government resolution (GR) to fill the vacancies.
Furthermore, lawyer and activist Gunratan Sadavarte filed an application in the Bombay High Court, seeking immediate withdrawal of the strike given the citizens’ suffering due to the strike’s effects. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice SV Gangapur Wala and Justice Sandeep Marne were hearing a plea seeking directions for immediate withdrawal of the ongoing strike. Before the HC, the government called the strike ‘illegal,’ thus asking for its immediate withdrawal. The HC has pushed the matter for further hearing till March 23
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