Thousands of employees of the Gujarat government, including school teachers, joined the ‘mass casual leave’ protest across the state on Saturday, 17 September, demanding implementation of the old pension scheme (OPS).
The umbrella union bodies had on Friday, 16 September, called off the stir, stating that the state government has accepted most of their demands, but the district level unions claimed that the government has not considered their main demand for OPS.
“Our main demand was OPS and this issue was not resolved by the state government on Friday. This issue affects each and every employee of the state and hence, they have decided to join the mass CL stir today,” said Mahesh Mori, convenor of Rashtriya Samyukt Morcha, Saurashtra region, on Saturday.
Nearly 7,000 government teachers were on leave on Saturday in Bhavnagar district alone, he said.
Unions representing teachers, panchayat health workers and revenue employees have been protesting for some time for the reintroduction of the OPS in the state.
In Gandhinagar, a large number of disgruntled employees had taken out a rally in Old Sachivalaya campus and stayed away from work.
“Our union leaders had called off the stir saying all our demands were met. But, our main demand for OPS is still standing. The government has agreed to give OPS only to employees who have joined service before 2005, while most of us have joined after 2005,” a protesting employee said.
In Kutch, nearly 8,000 government employees, mostly school teachers, did not go to work to register their protest.
“Since our main demand for OPS has not been accepted, we have decided to continue with the mass CL stir today. In Kutch district, nearly 8,000 employees, including teachers, are on leave today,” said Jakhrabhai Kerashiya of Kutch Prathmik Shaikshik Mahasangh.
After a meeting with five ministers of the BJP government on Friday, Samyukt Karmachari Morcha president Digvijaysinh Jadeja and Rashtriya Samyukt Morcha president Bhikhabhai Patel had said the mass leave stir had been called off as the government had accepted majority of their demands, except reintroduction of OPS.
The state government on Friday announced that employees who had joined service before April 2005 will get benefits of the General Provident Fund and old pension scheme.