Two-hour walkouts and demonstrations organised on 24th March to condemn the introduction of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) bill and demanded its withdrawal. Effigies of the bill were also burnt in some states. It is reported that state government employees organised the programme with success in Tripura, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Employees in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal organised massive walkouts and demonstrations.
This bill, initiated during the NDA regime, could not be pushed through because of the opposition by the working class outside the parliament and by the Left parties in the parliament. But the left force is of the opinion that in a surreptitious manner the UPA government of the Congress party and its allies have kept the avenues open to the regulator for unlimited foreign investment in pension fund without requiring the parliament’s assent. This shows how the present government is in connivance with the major opposition party, the BJP, in surrendering to the pressure of the international finance capital.
the bill was part of the government’s neo-liberal pro-corporate agenda to change the concept of pension as “defined benefit” to the workers after retirement to a “defined contribution” by the workers. This makes a mockery of pension as a social security scheme, with the onus of funding and regulation of the scheme shifting from the government or employer to a regulator. The main objective is to divert the pension contribution by the workers to the share market and corporate equity funds.
Right from the early days of 2005, when the bill was first introduced in the parliament, MPs belonging to the Left parties in and the working class all over the country have been relentlessly fighting against the blatant attempts of the governments and that is why the bill could not be passed in the parliament. Yet the central government and many state governments are implementing the new pension scheme through administrative orders, without the sanction of parliament. Only the Left ruled the states, viz, West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, have declared that they will not implement the new pension scheme for their employees.
The central government employees unions' contention is that it is due to the pressure exerted by the World Bank, IMF and finance capital in and out the country that the successive governments at the centre, headed by the NDA and the UPA, were trying to privatise the pension funds by placing it at the disposal of private fund managers and thereby paving way for investment of the astronomical pension fund amount in share market speculations. Despite the fact that international experience has proved the privatisation of pension as being beneficial neither to the employees nor to governments, such shameless attempts are being pursued continuously in the interest of private entrepreneurs.
source: Peoples Democracy