Thiruvananthapuram - Leader of opposition in the Kerala Assembly V.S. Achuthanandan Tuesday warned the government against raising the retirement age of its employees and starting a contributory pension scheme for them.
Before leading the entire opposition out of the house, he said the Oommen Chandy-led government was trying to play hide-and-seek on this issue by already giving enough hints that it was going ahead with plans to increase retirement age from the present 56 and start the contributory pension scheme to replace the current statutory pension.
"Please don't try to implement this on the sly and if you do, the youth in the state will be left with just two options - either launch a massive strike or commit suicide," said Achuthanandan.
CPI-M legislator P. Sreeramakrishnan sought leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue which first surfaced in the assembly Monday when Finance Minister K.M. Mani told the house that an explosive situation prevailed in the state since there were more government pensioners than serving employees.
He also said that government was hugely burdened with 75 percent of the state revenue going to pay salaries, pensions and interest on borrowings.
"Early this year, your government on the sly increased the retirement age from 55 to 56 and you did this without even having a discussion with youth organisations. And now, you have made the first move to further increase the age and there will be a huge backlash," said Sreeramakrishnan.
Intervening in the house, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that barring West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, all other states had opted for the contributing pension scheme.
"Today, there are 5.34 lakh state government employees and 5.50 lakh state government pensioners. Also, an average, a state government employee works in the government for 25 to 30 years, while a pensioner has to be paid pension for around 25 to 30 years. Every year, Rs.7,731 crore goes to pay pension and this situation cannot go on for long," said Chandy.
"As of now, no decision has been taken on either to increase the age of retirement or to introduce contributory pension. Any decision on this will be taken only after taking into confidence both the youth and the existing state government employees. If this situation continues, we will be left with no money for development activities," he said.
Mani said that it was the Left Front government in West Bengal which had raised the age of retirement of their employees from 56 to 58.
But Achuthanandan, protesting against the government's stand on the issue, led the entire opposition out of the house.