Mumbai University employees: Will we get our pension?
Retired employees of the Mumbai University struggle to get their retirement benefits from the university owing to bureaucratic delays and confusion
Over 200 employees of the University of Mumbai (class 1 to class 4) returned home disappointed on Friday as their two-year fight for retirement benefits went unanswered yet again. Retired after 2015, the employees who served the University of Mumbai in various capacities for 30-40 years alleged that they are being deprived of their rightful retirement benefits due to "the lackadaisical attitude of bureaucrats, the Higher and Technical Education department and the state government."
The university has now begun ad hoc payment of R8,000 for class IV, R10,000 for class II and III and R15,000 for class I retired employees monthly from the university fund, with the condition that this amount will be deducted from their monthly pension once it is released.
Over 200 university employees - 94 retired and around a 100 close to retirement – are facing this issue. According to some insiders, a circular from the Higher and Technical Education department said that some university employees whose promotion was hampered despite serving between 12 to 24 years of service, were entitled to an extra emolument over and above their monthly salary and were paid some arrears accordingly. However, the department claimed on December 18, 2018 that the earlier circular was issued without the finance minister's approval and hence discarded it along with the benefits granted to employees. These benefits are to be recovered from the beneficiaries.
Aided institute staff denied benefits
Over 100 employees who worked across departments of the university's institutes - Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, Garware Institute of Management, Alkesh Dinesh Mody Institute of Management and Institute of Distance Education - as administrative support staff, were considered to be part of the aided section of the university and therefore were not entitled for any benefits.
This claim has, however, been rubbished by both the retired employees and the Mumbai Vidyapeeth Karmachari Sangh. The union claimed that the administrative support staff were permanent employees of the university and they were never informed nor their consent was taken when they were sent to their respective institutes. They weren't told about their future prospects or retirement benefits either.
'Unfair on us'
Ladoba Pingulkar, 60, a Kandivli resident, who retired as head of the election department of university, retired in October 2018 got his first promotion after 25 years of serving the Mumbai University "and was given extra emolument as arrears (R4-5 lakh) then but now the circular is discarded."
He said, "I am yet to get my gratuity and the pension has not started either. My two children are still studying and I am only getting the ad hoc payment of R10,000 from the university fund. All of this is so unfair."
The Vice Chancellor has informed the aggrieved employees that the matter is pending before the Higher and Technical Education Department and the Mantralaya.
'Circular after my retirement'
Sweta Vaidya, 59, who worked as a head clerk at the Exam House, Kalina, retired in September 2018.
"My two children are still pursuing their education and I also have to look after my 95-year-old mother-in-law. Our house runs merely on the pension that my husband Sandeep (a former Mantralaya official) gets of around R25,000, and some savings," Vaidya said, adding that she has got her provident fund but not yet released her gratuity and or pension. "The reason they cited is that they are yet to recover funds from those employees who benefited from the Higher and Technical Education department circular. I had got those benefits too," she added.
However, Vaidya added that she retired before the circular was discarded and therefore "it is unfair to bring us under the ambit of the discarded circular issued three months after my retirement." The government, she said "must release our gratuity and pension instead of merely giving promises."
'Can't lose my pride'
Another employee, Sandhya Sherkhane, 55, exam superintendent, opted for the voluntary retirement scheme in March 2019. "I served for 34 years and now when I am unwell and in dire need of financial assistance, I am being made to run from pillar to post. The retirement benefits and pension are supposed to be the life savings for elderly people, but if we are deprived of them now, when will the authorities clear our dues? After our demise?" an emotional Sherkhane said, adding that she has been battling depression apart from being a diabetic and facing multiple health issues. "I have always lived a financially independent life and cannot imagine losing that pride. We live in my husband's office quarters for now and do not own a house in Mumbai. Around R40 lakh of ours are stuck in a Jogeshwari housing project. My husband barely has a little more than a year to retire after which I don't know where we will go," said Sherkhane who was sent to Garware institute for four months by the university.
'Working hard to resolve'
A member of the Mumbai Vidyapeeth Karmachari Sangh told mid-day that a protest was called on Saturday (February 8) against the issue. "But the vice-chancellor requested us to postpone it and give him some time to resolve. A decision is expected in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (February 12) we were told," he said.
Dr Ajay Deshmukh, Registrar at Mumbai University said that the administration was "very much concerned about the hardships faced by our retired colleagues." He said, "We are working hard to resolve this issue and have prepared a roaster of all the employees which will be accepted and verified by the competent authority at Konkan Bhavan."
December 18, 2018
Day the that the earlier Higher and Technical Education circular was discarded
Day the VC has promised development in the matter at the cabinet meeting
Ad hoc payment university is releasing for class IV retired employees
Ad hoc payment university is releasing for class II and III retired employees
Ad hoc payment university is releasing for class I retired employees
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