New Delhi: Trade unions are up in arms against the government for suspending Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension scheme, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from this month.
"All central trade unions would take up the issue with the Prime Minister and write a letter to him demanding resumption of the scheme. We will also launch a nation-wide protest against this decision," Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary A D Nagpal said.
The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had started the scheme with effect from September 2014, hiking the pension amount to a flat Rs 1,000 per month for those who were getting lower amount earlier.
The decision to suspend this benefit will immediately hit about 32 lakh pensioners who were earlier getting less than this entitlement. Now with the suspension of the scheme, the beneficiaries will get pension at the earlier rates.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself announced the Rs 1000 minimum monthly pension. Had the government done it for six months only," Nagpal, who is also an EPFO trustee, said.
Echoing his views, BJP-backed trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has also condemned the government's decision for discontinuing the minimum pension benefit for EPFO pensioners.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh All India General Secretary Vrijesh Upadhyay said, "The central government and the Prime Minister got a lot of appreciation for the scheme. They tried to prove that they are protecting the interest of poor and workers. Now, they have discontinued the benefit. We oppose it."
He said in a statement that all units of BMS across the country will launch a nation-wide stir against this decision.
Besides, it has also condemned the government for its plans to invest EFFO funds in equity and use the retirement fund money for other schemes.
In a circular to its field offices, the EPFO said it has decided to suspend the scheme in the absence of any direction from the government to continue this benefit beyond March 31.
According to the government notification issued on August 19 last year, the benefit of minimum pension was made effective from September 1 to March, 2015.
At present, EPFO has 49 lakh pensioners under the Employees Pension Scheme run by it.
The issue of providing Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension in perpetuity had come in EPFO's trustees' meet held on December 19. All members of the Central Board of Trustees were in favour of proposal. Thereafter, the proposal was sent to the government for approval.
The EPFO has also suspended the enhanced pension payment to widows, children and orphans under the scheme.
Under the modified scheme, the minimum monthly pension for widows has been fixed at Rs 1,000 and for children at Rs 250 per month. Similarly, the minimum pension entitlement for orphans has been fixed at Rs 750 per month.