Board approves demand for Exclusion of the Rly Employees from New Pension Scheme

Ministry of Railways approach Finance Ministry to seek Exemption from New Pension System

At a time when Railway employees have been preparing for a national-level strike seeking exemption from the New Pension System (NPS) among many others, the Railway Board on Friday approved one of their demand for exemption of Railway Employees from the new Paension Scheme and decided to approach the Finance Ministry for exclusion of the employees from the scheme. The NPS, which was introduced by the UPA Government, has met with stiff opposition from several employee organisations, especially the railways which constitutes the largest labour force in the country.

Several doubts still remain on the practicality of the scheme and employees in the various Central Government sectors have been seeking a clear picture for quite some time now. The demand is to retain the guaranteed pension scheme.

The All-India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), the largest trade union in the Indian railways, has been pressing for the demand for a long time. Several agitations were held in front of Parliament over the past several months.  C A Rajasridhar, president of the Southern Railways Mazdoor Union (SRMU), affiliated to the AIRF, said the Railway Board Chairman has decided to put forward the recommendation to exclude railway employees from the NPS before the Finance Ministry.  “A letter in this regard will be sent through the Railway Minister, which will then be forwarded to the Finance Ministry. After this, a Cabinet decision has to be taken in this regard. It is too early to say what the chances are of the railway employees being exempted from the national-level scheme,” he said. The NPS is meant for those employees who have been recruited to the railway board since 2004.

An employee contributes 10 per cent to the pension regulatory fund along with 10 per cent from the employing agency.  It is a contributory pension model and depends purely on the share market. This has raised apprehensions as fluctuations in the share market could put employees in a jeopardy. “The railways has always been an autonomous body which is finding funding through different means without the aid of the Central Government. So in this regard, railway employees can be exempted from the NPS of the Union Government and the railway board can take a decision regarding the pension of its employees. If the railwaymen are excused from this, this will create a huge upheaval as other sector employees will also come to the forefront. The defence sector has already been exempted from the scheme,” SRMU leader P Unnikrishnan said. Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar was not available for comments.