Maharashtra govt employees' strike demanding restoration of OPS enters second day

Lakhs of employees have continued to strike work on the second day demanding restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) , despite Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's appeal to resume work.

Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis (File photo)
Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis (File photo)

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

Maharashtra government employees continued to strike work keeping up their demand for restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). The functioning in government hospitals and offices are affected due to the agitation.

On March 14, 2023,  17 lakh state government employees started an indefinite strike raising their pending demand of restoration of the OPS . A day prior to the strike,  CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis met and appealed to Vishwas Katkar, the convenor of the committee of nearly 35 state government employees, semi-government employees and teachers to take back the strike. However, Katkar rejected the appeal made by CM Shinde.

Katkar said, "Today employees from various districts of Maharashtra have joined the strike with us. State-wise about 17 lakh employees are part of this strike. However many couldn't join on the first day. They were on holidays. Today about 37,000 have become part of this protest." Katkar stressed that the Shinde-led government should understand the importance of the Old Pension Scheme. Unless it is approved none of the employees will resume work.

"We have asked the employees from medical and education departments to remain available on need basis. We have no intention to let the public suffer. The top officials have been told about the availability of the staff in hospitals and educational services, "added Katkar

Sumitra Tote of the Maharashtra Nursing Association said its branches in 30 districts are participating in the strike.

Shinde had also announced a panel comprising senior bureaucrats to look into the demand of state government employees to revert to the Old Pension Scheme.

"When the government agrees to review our demand of restoration of the Old Pension Scheme it indicates they too understand it. This Scheme was operational from Independence till 2005. Then the state government didn't face any financial setbacks, so why are they facing it now? Come what may we will not bend down to the government in this matter, " added Katkar.

Besides the restoration of the OPS, the agitating employees highlighted their other demands, including regularisation of services of contract employees, filling up of vacant posts, and benefits of in-service advancement scheme to teaching and non-teaching staff. The strike affected services, including in state-run hospitals. Paramedics working in state-run hospitals, sanitation workers, and teachers have also joined the strike which comes at a time when board examinations for Classes 10 and 12 are underway.

Shinde announced a three-member committee to look into the demand and submit a report within three months.

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