Calls for strong agitation to counter proposed scheme

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has said that the contributory pension scheme is a move to cheat government employees, and therefore a strong agitation is required to counter it. The government would be pandering to the corporate majors by implementing the scheme, he alleged.

Mr. Achuthanandan was inaugurating a seminar on ‘Contributory pension and the existence of the civil service,’ organised here on Sunday as part of the 38th State conference of the Joint Council of State Service Organisations.

“Pension is a right which the government cannot deny,” he said. The prime aim of the contributory pension scheme was to promote the stock markets by making employees “lose” 10 per cent of their salaries. The Chief Minister had informed the Assembly that the government only stood to lose by implementing the scheme. “Then why implement it”, Mr. Achuthanandan asked.

The right to pension could not be denied through government decisions. Pension was de facto salary kept apart to sustain government employees when they retired. It was not any kind of concession from the employer. The contributory pension scheme was being taken forward even without the consent of Parliament, he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan said that when he was the Chief Minister, the then Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, had written to him several times about implementing the scheme. “The Left Democratic Front government simply rejected it,” he said. But one of the first acts of the United Democratic Front government, on coming to power, was aimed at torpedoing the statutory pension scheme.

Bourgeois governments keep repeating that a lion’s share of the government revenue went as salary and pensions to the employees. This was, in fact, a ruse to misguide people and create animosity in them against government employees. He said the lack of social commitment, dereliction of duty, and corruption by a section of the government employees should be seen in a different context and the same warranted stern action.

The contributory pension scheme would destroy social security and pave the way for the destruction of civil service too.

While the government said the scheme would cover only those being newly recruited, the threat of existing employees getting covered by the scheme loomed large because there were provisions for that in the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill.

Mr. Achuthanandan, at the same time, said that raising the pension age did not augur well for a State like Kerala. Though employees had rejoiced over the pension age being raised to 56 years, freeze on appointments, contributory pension, and raising of pension age were all part of the neo- liberal economic policies.

In his presidential address, CPI leader C. Divakaran, MLA, said the contributory pension scheme would be catastrophic if implemented. Granting of new benefits may be a difficult proposition, but something like the statutory pension enjoyed by the employees should not be denied. The State had got the right to reject the scheme and that right should be used, he said.

The seminar was addressed by the former Minister and RSP leader N.K. Premachandran; CPI leader C.N. Chandran, Kerala NGO Union general secretary A. Sreekumar, and Kerala NGO Association president Kottathala Mohanan.