TN govt employees march for old pension thwarted, 7,500 protesters detained

Chennai: The proposed march to the Secretariat by government employees to press for their demands, including implementation of the ‘old pension scheme’,was today foiled by police who detained 7,500 protesters, a move which drew flak from opposition parties.

Teachers and government employees under the banner JACTTO-GEO arrived in batches, raised slogans and staged brief sit-in demonstrations at various locations.

The employees, who arrived in batches, raised slogans and staged brief sit-in demonstrations at various locations and were removed by police.

As police intensified checks on buses and vans (to stop employees arriving from other parts of Tamil Nadu) entering the city since early morning, it led to traffic snarls in several localities.

A host of leaders of the Joint Action Committee of Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Organisations- Government Employees’ Organisations (JACTTO-GEO) were detained yesterday itself by police as a preventive measure, which was condemned by opposition parties, including the DMK and CPI(M).

All the detained government employees were later released, police said.

Tight security was in place at the Fort St George complex housing the Secretariat, with barbed wires attached to barricades to prevent protestors from breaching it.

Such stringent measures were against the backdrop of a successful protest by JACTTO-GEO in August last year, which led to severe traffic congestion in the city.

Payment of 21-month arrears as per the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, rectifying pay anomalies for employees and reverting to old pension scheme are among the key demands of the government employees.

In 2016, an expert committee was constituted to look into the demand for reversion to the ‘old pension scheme.’

A DMK-led meet of opposition parties chaired by M K Stalin here today passed a resolution, condemning the detention of the protesters.

“Suppression cannot be a solution in a democracy,” it said and urged Chief Minister K Palaniswami to hold talks with government employees and fulfil their demands.

Yesterday, Minister for Personnel and Administrative Reforms D Jayakumar had urged teachers and government employees to avoid protests and work with the government in the interests of the people.

He had pointed out that there are about 12 lakh government employees and 7.42 lakh pensioners and 70 per cent of the tax revenue was spent on their salaries and pensions.