Maharashtra Govt. Staffers Go on Strike for Better Retirement Benefits

The indefinite strike is expected to impact the supervision of SSC and HSC exams and the evaluation of answer booklets, affecting the state's education system and administration.

Maharashtra Govt. Staffers Go on Strike for Better Retirement Benefits
(File Image) Maharashtra Govt. Staffers Go on Strike for Better Retirement Benefits

More than 18 lakh state government employees, including teachers in public schools and colleges, have gone on indefinite strike from today, March 14, to demand the reinstatement of the Old Pension Program (OPS). 

The strike is expected to have a significant impact on the supervision of SSC and HSC exams, as well as the evaluation of answer booklets and declaring results. The state government employees' association officially announced the strike on Monday, March 13, after negotiations with the Chief Minister Ekanth Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis saw a little progress.

The workers' association believes that the OPS program will provide them with better retirement benefits, and they make a significant contribution to the management of the government. Hence, they are seeking a clear statement from the administration regarding its implementation.

The Class 3 and Class 4 employees, teaching and non-teaching staff in educational institutions, zilla parishads in rural areas, and municipal councils in small cities are entirely off duty. 

However, Class I (Officers of Armed forces, Magistrates, Scientists, Vice-Chancellors, Assistant Registrars, Principals, and Doctors)  and Class II (Junior Engineers in different departments, Income tax officers, Custom/Excise officers, Senior Pharmacists) are not participating in the strike. This is a major relief as essential services such as law enforcement and healthcare will not be affected.

Besides, Maharashtra government employees, zilla parishads, municipal councils have also participated in the strike. 

The demand for OPS has been a long-standing one, and the administration had formed committees to look into the matter. However, no concrete action has been taken yet, which has resulted in the workers' decision to go on strike.

The OPS program was discontinued in 2005, and the new pension scheme does not provide sufficient benefits, which is why workers have been demanding the reinstatement of the OPS for several years. The government had made promises in the past, but there have been two strikes since 2018, indicating that the workers' association is no longer interested in mere promises and is demanding concrete action.

The commission made up of authorities and retired personnel will analyse the OPS and submit a report to the administration, according to the chief minister. The government wants to find a solution and is not opposed to the OPS demand. However, the administration has failed to meet the workers' demands, resulting in the strike. The workers' association is hoping that the strike will pressure the administration to take concrete action.

The Deputy CM has exclaimed that the states that had chosen to put the OPS into effect had not yet disclosed their plan. The government must ensure that retiring workers are not treated unfairly, which is the workers' primary concern. The government employees will not be allowed to take an obstructionist stance.

It is pertinent to note that the Shinde faction-led government has come under pressure to return to the OPS after losing the most recent bypolls where the OPS had turned into a poll issue.

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