Railway unions are organising a protest march to Parliament tomorrow, demanding the withdrawal of the National Pension System (NPS) and improvement of minimum wages, the All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF) said today.
In a press meet organised by the AIRF, its general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said while social security to retired government employees was achieved after a prolonged struggle, it was virtually withdrawn with the introduction of the NPS from January 2004.
"Under the NPS, the defined minimum pension or family pension is no more guaranteed for those employees who came in government service on or after 2004, although they are regularly contributing 10 per cent of their wages every month towards this scheme," Mishra alleged.
The demand to scrap the NPS was one of the main demands made by the central government employees last year. A three-member committee of ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh was formed to discuss the grievances but there was no progress.
Mishra said around 40,000-50,000 railway employees from across the country were expected to join the march tomorrow to Parliament.
"There is anger and anguish not just among railwaymen, but also among bureaucrats, over this. We have been assured again and again that our demands will be met, but nothing has happened so far. If they do not relent, then we will have to stick together and the next step could well be disruptive," Mishra said.
The AIRF, however, said that this time, they had ensured that rail services would not be disrupted by the presence of rail employees in Delhi.
"We have given instructions that no trains will be stopped or delayed because of our march. However, there will be a lot of absentees. Most of those affected are youngsters and they are very upset and angry," Mishra said, adding that all the state rail federations would join in the protest.
Mishra also said they were not happy with the minimum pay of Rs 18,000 that was approved and wanted it to be hiked to Rs 26,000.
In February 2016, the AIRF had conducted a secret ballot for its members to decide the future course of action if its demands weren't met. Ninety-five per cent of the 9,00,000 railwaymen who voted supported a strike. These employees included railway men from across the country, including 17 zones and seven production units of the Indian Railways.
In 1974, railway employees demanding a wage increase staged a strike that crippled life in the country for almost three weeks.