Lakhs of employees of the Maharashtra government went on an indefinite strike from Tuesday seeking restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS), affecting services, including in state-run hospitals, a day after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced to set up a committee to look into the demand.
Paramedics working in hospitals run by the state government, sanitation workers and teachers have also joined the strike which comes at a time when board examinations for Classes 10 and 12 are underway.
Employees raised slogans like “Only one mission, restore old pension” outside government offices and hospitals.
Vishwas Katkar, the convenor of a committee of nearly 35 unions representing state government employees, semi-government staffers and teachers, said their members in all 36 districts of Maharashtra are participating in the stir.
“Services in hospitals, educational institutes, government establishments, tax offices and even the district collector offices were completely shut,” Katkar claimed.
He asserted there will be no compromise on the issue and demanded that the OPS, under which the entire pension amount was given by the government, must be restored.
Since 2004, government employees (barring armed forces personnel) are covered under the National Pension System (NPS), a contributory scheme where the payout is market-linked and return-based.
Sumitra Tote of the Maharashtra Nurses Association said its members from 34 branches across 30 districts participated in the strike on Day one.
However, government services in Mumbai, including in hospitals, remained largely unaffected.
In the state-run JJ group of hospitals, which controls four medical facilities in Mumbai, services were mostly unaffected, said Dr Pallavi Saple, dean, JJ Hospital.
“Major surgeries took place at two of our hospitals. But we have started planning for the coming days. We are roping in nurses from the BMC (Mumbai civic body). We also have nursing students, Class four workers who are on contract,” she said.