Fears of a 1974-like strike looms large over railways as its employees are currently engaged in a crucial voting process regarding the contentious issue of the old pension scheme (OPS). Responding to the call by the All India Railwaymen's Federation, employees across railway divisions pan-India are participating in a two-day secret ballot, which commenced on November 20 and will conclude today. The results are expected by the end of the week.
The fate of the proposed indefinite strike for the OPS restoration will be decided through the secret ballot. Organised at the divisional level, this voting process aims to gauge the collective opinion of the workforce. The outcome of the secret ballot will define the employees' future course of action regarding the strike.
'OPS restoration is demand of laks of central government employees'
Venu Nair, the General Secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union, explained that the decision on whether to proceed with an all-India strike will be determined by the percentage of votes obtained. The ballot will be valid only if 75 per cent of members participate in it while a strike can be called if two-thirds of the votes are polled in favor. A Central Railway union leader said, “This (OPS restoration) is a demand of lakhs of central government employees. We are sure of getting their support for an indefinite strike.”
'We will meet in Delhi after the ballot'
Asserting that the unions intends to hold a legal strike involving every worker, the union leader further said, “We will meet in Delhi after the ballot and decide the date of serving the strike notice to the Centre. The discussion among the unions is on beginning the strike in February, before the announcement of the 2024 general elections.” Around 50% of the total workforce of the Centre is under the new pension scheme (NPS) and the unions expect large support for the strike, especially from young workers, the leader added. Another union leader said, “We will not accept anything less than the OPS restoration.” This time, the enthusiasm of workers is much more as around seven lakh young workers, who are under NPS, are not ready for any compromise such as increasing the pension amount given under the NPS, he averred.