The pro-BJP Federation of Employees and Teachers’ Organisations (FETO) on Thursday called off its indefinite strike against the proposed contributory pension scheme even as the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) urged the government to initiate talks with the agitating employees.
In press note here late Thursday evening, the FETO leadership said it had decided to withdraw the strike following an assurance from the government on payment of minimum pension to the employees at talks with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Finance Minister K.M. Mani and Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. The government, they said, had also promised to actively consider their demand to raise the retirement age of employees coming under the contributory pension scheme to 60 years.
On its part, the LDF leadership, which held an emergency meeting in the morning, felt that there should be talks with the striking employees’ unions so that there could be an amicable settlement to the stir. Briefing reporters after the meeting, LDF convener Vaikom Viswan said the government’s attempts to browbeat the agitators by trotting up ‘false’ figures about high attendance levels in government offices and the attacks on the agitating staff by pro-UDF elements would not work.
“How can the employees trust a government which is not even ready to assure them of minimum pension,” Mr. Viswan asked and added that the employees were worried that they would be thrown to the mercy of private insurance companies once the contributory pension scheme came into effect. The government was not even ready to talk to the employees about their concerns, he pointed out.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister had said that the government saw no reason for a further round talks with the employees. Simultaneously, through an official press note, the government claimed that 72 per cent of the State employees had reported for duty on Thursday, up from 62.01 per cent on the first day of the strike on Tuesday. As on Wednesday, there were several instances of violence as part of the strike from across the State. the Students Federation of India announced an indefinite strike in support of the strike beginning Friday.