Veteran trade union leader and patron of Kerala Electricity Workers' Federation (KEWF) M. Sukumara Pillai has said it is high time the working class sensed the alarming threat posed by the “anti-worker” Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill to the social security system of India and opposed it tooth and nail.
Talking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, Mr. Pillai said an insecurity threat loomed large over the social security system, with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government introducing the Bill in Parliament. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), too had supported the bill, leaving the Left parties to protest against the anti-worker bill in Parliament, he said.
Mr. Pillai said the united stand taken by the Congress and the BJP on the new pension Bill itself was ample testimony to the fact that the economic policies of both the parties were one and the same.
He said the proposed pension scheme was a product of the gobalisation and liberalisation policies of the successive Union governments run by the UPA and the NDA.
It is noteworthy that the NDA government, through an executive order, had made applicable a new ‘contributory pension scheme' to all Central government employees who joined service on or after January 1, 2004, recovering 10 per cent of the salary and dearness allowance of each employee towards the contributory pension scheme.
Mr. Pillai alleged that the new Bill was part of the Union government's neo-liberal, pro-corporate, agenda to alter the very concept of pension, as a defined benefit to the workers after their retirement, to a defined contribution by the workers themselves. The alarming part of the Bill was that it proposed shifting the onus of funding the regulation of the pension scheme from the government to a regulator, he said.
Mr. Pillai alleged that the main objective of the proposed scheme was to divert the hefty pension contribution to the share market and corporate equity funds.
The trade union leader alleged that the Congress and the BJP had joined hands to open avenues for foreign investors in the country's pension fund. Mr. Pillai said the working class in India should strongly oppose the government move to implement a market-linked pension scheme.
If the Bill was passed, fund managers would be appointed because the hefty amount accumulated in the pension scheme had to be invested in the share market. They would reap huge profits when the market boomed and if the market crashed, the pension fund would collapse and the employees' savings would be lost, he said.