EPS-95 Scheme: Despite Labor Minister’s assurance, pensioners’ demands remain unfulfilled, second hunger strike likely

EPS-95 Scheme: Despite Labor Minister’s assurance, pensioners’ demands remain unfulfilled, second hunger strike likely

Demand to increase the minimum pension to 7,500 rupees, pensioners to start indefinite hunger strike, warning to begin with state-wise sequential hunger strikes.

Indefinite hunger strike to commence at Jantar Mantar from January 31.

Pensioners are demanding a monthly basic pension of 7,500 rupees, along with dearness allowance and free health facilities, among other requests.

New Delhi, January 30

Under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS)-95 of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), pensioners, led by the National Agitation Committee of EPS 95, will initiate a second indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, the national capital, demanding various benefits, including increasing the minimum pension to 7,500 rupees per month. Labor Minister Bhupender Yadav had assured pensioners that their demands would be addressed soon, but so far, their demands have not been fulfilled. Due to this, pensioners are unhappy. If their demands are not met, they will commence a second hunger strike from January 31, starting with state-wise sequential hunger strikes. The committee states that if no decision is taken promptly on their demands, the protest may escalate to a nationwide fast unto death. Over 50,000 pensioners from across the country are expected to participate in this agitation.

Pensioners are also demanding an increase in the monthly basic pension to 7,500 rupees, along with providing free health facilities to the spouses of pensioners. Currently, the minimum pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS)-95 is 1,000 rupees per month. Commander Ashok Raut (Retd.), the president of the committee, stated, “This is our final warning. Despite repeated assurances, no action has been taken on our demands. If our demands are not met, we will go on fast unto death. Before that, state-wise sequential hunger strikes /demonstration will begin from January 31. If even then the government takes no action, there will be no choice but to resort to fast unto death “

It is noteworthy that 12% of the basic salary of employees covered under EPS 95 goes into the Provident Fund, while 8.33% of the employer’s share goes into the Employees’ Pension Scheme. Additionally, the government contributes 1.16% to the pension fund. Commander Ashok Raut claims, “After working for thirty years and consistently contributing to the EPS-based pension scheme, employees are receiving such a meager amount as a monthly pension, making it difficult for employees and their families to sustain.”

The statement further criticizes the misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision, depriving pre-September 1, 2014, retired pensioners of the benefits of higher pension.

Therefore, the government will be once again requested not to force 75 lakh elderly individuals to sit on the roads in freezing conditions and to announce an immediate increase in the minimum pension in this budget.”

It is worth mentioning that the EPS 95 National Agitation Committee has been organizing various forms of protests, demonstrations, and rallies across 28 states in the country for the past seven years to demand an increase in the minimum pension. The demands have been presented vigorously from the streets to the Parliament. Prime Minister, central ministers, chief ministers, and Members of Parliament from all parties have been apprised of the economic difficulties faced by pensioners. A massive rally was held at Ramlila Maidan on December 7, 2023, followed by a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on December 8, which turned into an indefinite hunger strike on December 13. Labor Minister Bhupendra Yadav had called a representative meeting on December 14, 2023, promising a speedy resolution. After that assurance, the indefinite hunger strike was suspended. However, even after that assurance, no action has been taken on the demands of pensioners, causing their patience to wear thin. After issuing a notice to the government at the beginning of January, a strong demonstration was held at 110 EPFO offices across the country. But with the demands still unmet, a second postponed hunger strike is set to commence from January 31.

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