Railway employees have reiterated their demand for exclusion from the National Pension Scheme (NPS) applicable to all Central government employees who joined service on or after January 1 2004. This, and other demands, are part of a letter written by the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen (NFIR) in the context of the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There are about 13 lakh railway employees in India, which has the world's fourth-largest rail network ferrying about 23 million passengers every day.
In its letter, the NFIR also reminded the government of its commitment to revisit the multiplier factor and increasing the minimum wages from the level recommended by the 7th CPC. The pay panel had prescribed a multiplier factor of 2.57 and entry level salary of Rs 18,000 per month.
"NFIR also beings to your kind notice that even though the successive Railway Ministers have sent proposals to Finance Minister that Railways should be exempted from National Pension System (NPS) in view of complexities, unique nature of working of Railway employees and their arduous working conditions, the Government has not given its approval till now, resultantly, the Railway employees who had joined from 01/01/2004 are extremely agitated as there is no social security to them and their families in the form of guaranteed pension at par with those appointed prior to 01/01/2004," the union said in its letter addressed to Modi.
The NPS envisages contribution from both the employee (10 percent of basic pay) and the government. On retirement, an employee gets 60 percent while the balance is "invested in an annuity (from IRDA regulated insurance company), which will provide pension for the lifetime of the employee and his/her dependant spouse/parents."
Also, "those who leave the scheme before attaining 60 years it is mandatory to invest 80% of the pension in such scheme," according to an update on Indian Railway Employee website.
While the government implemented the salary hike component as recommended by the 7th CPC, it is yet to take decision on the allowances part. It had said in June this year that a high-level committee will go into the proposals pertaining to allowances and submit its view within four months.
The CPC examined 196 allowances and gave its recommendations on abolishing or raising some of them while recommending others to be subsumed with other perks.