Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the government has an open mind on the question of pegging the age of superannuation of State employees and teachers at a higher level.
Responding to an Opposition plea for adjournment of the Assembly to discuss the police action on youth agitation against pension age hike on Thursday, Mr. Chandy said that the government would contemplate hike in retirement age only after taking the youth organisations into confidence. In the present instance, all that the government had done was to scrap the pension age unification carried out by the LDF government and confirm 56 years as the age of retirement, he said.
The Chief Minister said the Opposition had no right to criticise the government over the issue because the last LDF government had issued orders raising the retirement age of employees of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) to 58 years on February 22, 2011, barely 10 days before the Assembly elections were announced. It had also issued another order on February 26, 2011, to push up the pension age of employees of the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation from 55 to 58 years, he pointed out.
When S. Sarma (CPI-M) clarified that this was done on the basis of a High Court directive and as the employees did not enjoy pension benefits like State employees and P.K Gurudasan (CPI-M) said that the pension age of Bevco employees was raised as it was a public sector unit not covered by the pension scheme, Mr. Chandy retorted that if that was the case and the LDF was against pegging the retirement age higher, it should have brought the employees in the two organisations under the pension scheme. “Moreover, isn't the retirement age in the cooperative sector 58 years,” he asked. Confronted with the question why the government had not thought of just scrapping retirement age unification, Mr. Chandy countered with the question, “Is it possible to withdraw any benefit given to the employees?” The government had taken all decisions necessary to ensure that not a single job opportunity was lost and its decision confirming the retirement age at 56 years had been welcomed by even pro-LDF employees unions, he said.