K. Govindaswamy is 61 years old. Having retired from Aavin in February 2010, he now draws a pension of Rs.1,566 — a sum that is hardly enough to survive.

His last drawn pay was Rs.16,600 and though he put in 30 years as a permanent employee and 5 years as part-time sales assistant, he only got around Rs. 5 lakh as gratuity, EPF settlement and superannuation fund when he retired. Mr. Govindaswamy is not alone; hundreds of retired employees of Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers Federation too suffer. This is because their pension during their service was linked to the Employees’ Provident Fund wherein the employer’s contribution was restricted to Rs. 780 a month. This was based on a cap of Rs. 6,500 on the emoluments (basic pay and dearness allowance). The employees could not also increase their contribution in proportion to their emoluments.

For instance a deputy manager, who put in around 40 years of service and whose last drawn pay was around Rs. 40,000, gets a pension of just Rs. 2,000. Aavin officials said that a committee had been set up to look into the issue of pension. “They have been studying various possibilities and listening to various representations,” he said.