THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition UDF seized a golden opportunity to maul the Left Government in the form of KSRTC pension issue. It alleged the government was preparing the ground for hiking the pension age of employees to 60 years. Congress MLA V T Balram had a free run while speaking on his notice for an adjournment motion, cheered by colleagues as he trampled upon the treasury benches.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan categorically stated there are no moves at all to hike the pension age of employees in other departments and KSRTC needs measures for a revamp. But the Opposition was not convinced. A walkout ensued after permission was denied to move the adjournment motion.
Government’s sincerity questioned, ruling front MLAs stay silent
Perhaps for the first time in the current Assembly, the young brigade in the ruling benches remained speechless amid the Opposition onslaught. The government was told there are no two opinions the interests of employees, pensioners and also commuters should be protected, but the move for hiking the pension age bore only ulterior motives.
“The state has a whopping 35 lakh unemployed educated youth. The state government had given an affidavit recently in the High Court denying appointment in the KSRTC for over 4,000 PSC rank holders even after issuing advice memos. The Finance Minister went on record stating no posts will be created and thus declared an unofficial ban on all appointments. The current move is obviously larger than what meets the eye,” said Balram.
Tough time for Transport Minister
Transport Minister A K Saseendran had a tough time defending the move. The financial liability arising out of around 5,000 KSRTC staff retiring in the next four years can be deferred, he said, adding the recommendation in the Susheel Khanna report is to create a pension fund out of the saved amount and add to a collective exercise for salvaging KSRTC.
He said the former UDF Government had issued similar orders in 2013. But Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said it is true such a measure was taken in only select areas having heavy shortage of experienced hands. “If the charge is the Contributory Pension Scheme introduced by the UDF Government set off the trend, we challenge the LDF Government to withdraw the scheme and prove its sincerity,” he said.
LDF has an ‘intrinsic genetic disorder’: Opposition
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala recalled the violence and destruction of public property unleashed by DYFI and other Left outfits when the Oommen Chandy Government went for a unification of the pension age for government employees to 56 years, by just one month. “Thomas Issac, who was the Finance Minister in the V S Achuthanandan Government also used the ploy of deferring the retirement age of those poised to leave the service after March 31 till the end of the ongoing fiscal, thus adding up to 11 months in their career,” he said.
Ramesh also said the LDF has an ‘intrinsic genetic disorder’, which makes it take stand while in the Opposition and sporting a diametrically opposite stand after coming to power. “Take the case of agitations waged against the pre-degree board, computers, ADB loan and the self-financing education institutions. What is the stance of the Left now?” he asked.