50,000 Employees and officers working in the 4 Public Sector General Insurance (PSGI) companies – National Insurance Company Ltd., New Indian Assurance Company Ltd., Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. and United India Insurance Company Ltd., observed nation-wide strike on 28.01.2022 pressing wage revision and various other demands.
Joint Forum of the Trade Unions/Associations in PSGI Companies JFTU – the Umbrella organization of 16 constituents is spearheading the struggle pressing the long pending (54 months) demand of wage revision with effect from 01.08.2017. JFTU has condemned the indifferent attitude of the General Insurers’ (Public Sector) Association – GIPSA and the Government even as demands for wage revision in other financial institutions coming under the aegis of the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance have been settled albeit after protracted and bitter struggles.
The JFTU is also on the warpath against the Union Government’s attempts to privatize the Public Sector General Insurance Industry. Parliament passed the General Insurance Business Nationalisation Amendment Act, GIBNA 2021, in an undemocratic manner despite the struggles of the insurance employees and vociferous opposition from Members of Parliament on the floors of both the houses of Parliament in August 2021. It is also worthwhile to note that 12 Rajya Sabha MPs of different opposition parties were suspended for having pretested against the GIBNA Amendment Bill vociferously. This has paved the way for total divestment of all the shares in all the 4 PSGI companies. JFTU is now demanding the repeal of GIBNA Amendment Act 2021.
Other demands of the JFTU include abolition of the National Pension System (NPS) which was thrust on the employees and officers who joined the industry on or after 01.04.2010 and extension of guaranteed 1995 General Insurance Pension Scheme to all. In the meantime JFTU also demands that the Management’s Contribution in NPS to be increased from 10% to 14% as agreed by the Government. JFTU also demands family pension at the rate of 30% of Pay without ceiling as implemented in some organisations as well as updation of Pension.
All India Insurance Employees’ Association and other constituents of JFTU also demand that the four PSGI companies shall be merged to form a strong Public Sector General Insurance Entity which can put up stiff resistance to the fierce competition from the 21 Private Sector General Insurance Companies.
The agitation program decided by the JFTU in December 2021 was diluted when except AIIEA, the other constituents of JFTU shied away from the agitation program (One hour walk out strike on 19.01.2022) citing surge in COVID cases. AIIEA alone went on for the one hour strike on 19.01.2022 and appealed to all other constituents to join the one day strike on 28.01.2022. Heeding to the appeal all the constituents except two Trade Unions joined the strike. Young officers and employees rallied around our appeal and made the One day protest strike on 28.01.2022 a huge success.
The government’s intentions are very clear. Privatise PSUs. Delay in settling the wage increase in General Insurance sector has political ramifications. Unions have a bigger role to fight it out. Good the Unions there are in that direction