The Central government on Wednesday warned government employees against participating in a rally to demand the restoration of Old Pension Scheme (OPS).
An order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said “any employee going on strike in any form, including protest, would face the consequences which, besides deduction of wages, may also include appropriate disciplinary action.”
As on March 1, 2022, there were 30.13 lakh Central government employees. Restoration of OPS is a key electoral issue. NPS is a contributory pension scheme with matching contribution from the government and is market-linked, while the OPS assures life-long income, post-retirement, usually equivalent to 50% of the last drawn salary. Government employees joining service in 2004 were mandatorily enrolled in the NPS.
Till January 31, there were 23,65,693 Central government employees and 60,32,768 State government employees enrolled under the NPS.
The DoPT said the right to form an association does not include any guaranteed right to strike. “There is no statutory provision empowering the employees to go on strike. The Supreme Court has also agreed in several judgments that going on a strike is a grave misconduct under the Conduct Rules and that misconduct by the government employees is required to be dealt with in accordance with the law,” the order said.
The DoPT said a joint consultative machinery for Central government employees was already functioning with the object of promoting harmonious relations and co-operation between the government and the general body of its employees.
A set of instructions issued in 2008, it said, “prohibit the government servants from participating in any form of strike including mass casual leave, go-slow, sit-down etc. or any action that abets any form of strike.”
It added that pay and allowances are not admissible to an employee for his absence from duty without any authority and asked the secretaries of each Ministry to dissuade the government employees from going on strike.
“Instructions may be issued not to sanction casual leave or any other kind of leave to employees during the period of the proposed protest/strike and ensure that the willing employees are allowed hindrance-free entry into the office premises. ... Suitable contingency plan may also be worked out to carry out the various functions of the Ministry/department. In case the employees go on dharna/protest/strike, a report indicating the names and designations of employees may be conveyed to this department by the evening of the strike day,” the order said.