Pensioners’ Associations have been continuously making efforts to improve the pension system to enable them to live a satisfied and dignified life. But at the same time, the government was conspiring how to reduce the ‘burden’ of pension. New Pension Scheme (NPS) was implemented for employees recruited from 2004, denying them the existing defined statutory pension and converting in to contributory pension. The Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) was constituted with powers to extend it to earlier pensioners also, in case the government decides so. Except the then Left Governments of W.Bengal, Kerala and Tripura – all state governments followed suit by introducing the NPS in their states. Workers sarcastically called it ‘No Pension Scheme’. Despite strong protests from the pensioners’ organisations, defined statutory pension was not restored.
Pension for BSNL Retirees.
BSNL was formed in October 2000, bifurcating the services section of telecom from DOT in to Public Sector Unit. There were strong protest actions against the convesrsion and series of strike actions took place. Workers understood that the corporatisation was the first step towards privatisation and hence the sustained struggles. However, despite the strong protest of progressive unions like All India Telecom Employees Union Class III (N), the recognised Federations NFTE, FNTO and BTEF agreed for corporatisation with certain conditions. One condition was that government pension will be ensured to the BSNL absorbed DOT employees. It was later to be seen that the government was not very sincere and created umpteen problems with regarding to the calculation of pension and other connected matters, against which the workers had to organise struggles.
BSNL Employees Union was formed in 2001 by merging eight progressive unions, including E.III(N), T.III, Administrative Unions etc. Since its formation, it was dedicated to not only taking up the problems of workers, but also that of Pensioners as well as Casual and Contract workers. There were a lot of problems created by the government in payment of pension about which will be mentioned in the next chapter (to be continued).