Facilities to ‘decrease’ for univ teachers under new pension scheme

Teachers of public universities are going on work abstention from today protesting the newly introduced pension scheme called prottoy as the teachers maintain that under the new schemes, the facilities of the pensioners will ‘decrease’ than now.

Teachers of all the public universities also warned that they will go on work abstention for an indefinite period if they are not excluded from the pension scheme.

The government launched a new pension scheme called 'prottoy' today (Monday) on the first day of the new fiscal year (2024-25) . Employees of self-governing, autonomous, state-owned, statutory or similar organisations and their subordinate bodies joining these organisations from 1 July will be mandatory members of the prottoy scheme under the Universal Pension Scheme.

The Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers' Associations (FBUTA) has been waging a movement against the Prottoy scheme terming it discriminatory. Dhaka University Teachers Association (DUTA) has formed a five-member committee that drew comparisons between the existing pension scheme and Prottoy scheme.

According to the assessment of the committee, 2.7 times more money will be available per month in the new pension system in comparison with the existing scheme. But, money will be deducted from the salaries of teachers, officials and employees under the prottoy scheme. No lump sum will be provided after retirement, pension will not increase from year to year and the pensioner's nominee will not get pension for life as now. Mentioning the non-availability of several other facilities, the teachers maintain that their benefits will decrease under the new system which is discriminatory.

The National Pension Authority is, however, adamant to launch the new pension scheme. It says no other organisations sans the university teachers protested the new scheme. Md Golam Mostafa, member of the organisation, told Prothom Alo on Sunday, “Prottoy scheme will be launched on 1 July as scheduled. As per our estimation, this scheme will benefit the pensioners. It can be amended if any inconsistency is found, there is nothing to make any objection right now.”

Universal pension scheme was introduced in the country on 17 August last with four different schemes. The schemes are Probash, Pragati, Surokkha and Samata. Until Thursday last, some 323,773 people subscribed to different pension schemes, depositing Tk 970 million.

The new scheme will be applicable for all state-owned and government banks including Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA), Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB); All government universities including Dhaka University, all corporations including Sadharan Bima Corporation, Petrobangla, Export Development Bureau (EPB), BSTI and for new officers and employees of around 400 organisations and institutions.

Meanwhile, in this year's budget speech, finance minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has announced that government employees will also be brought under the universal pension. Accordingly, another program will be launched for government employees from 1 July, 2025. According to pension authority sources, it will be named 'Sebak'.

How new scheme is less beneficial for teachers

DUTA formed a five member committee for reviewing the new pension scheme after the finance division on 13 March issued a gazette. The members of the committee are Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Research Institute for Peace and Liberty’s professor Abul Barakat, economics department chairman Masuda Yasmin, marketing department’s professor Masudur Rahman, economics department’s professor Sahadat Hossain Siddique and finance department’s assistant professor Sojib Hossain.

According to the report, a professor gets a monthly pension of Tk 45,790 under the existing system. Under the new scheme, a teacher who joins the job at 30 years of age and retires at 65 will get a monthly pension of Tk 124,660. But the new system would not provide the lump sum amount of Tk 8.73 million as gratuity

The committee made an assessment report and submitted it to the education ministry. According to the report, a professor gets a monthly pension of Tk 45,790 under the existing system. Under the new scheme, a teacher who joins the job at 30 years of age and retires at 65 will get a monthly pension of Tk 124,660. But the new system would not provide the lump sum amount of Tk 8.73 million as gratuity. When this amount is added as investment in pension funds or saving certificates, the pension under the existing system stands as Tk 113,000 per month.

The committee further said that the nominee gets pension facility till death after the death of the pensioner in the existing system. Under the new system, the nominees will not get the pension till death, rather till the day when the deceased pensioner would have reached 75 years. In the existing system, there is an increment of 5 per cent every year which will not be available under Prottoy. Also, there would not be any money for earned leave as now. Besides, the new scheme does not clarify anything on LPR (post retirement leave).

The existing facilities have been curtailed through introducing prottoy. This is against the autonomy of the university
Zeenat Huda, DUTA general secretary

The retirement age for university teachers is 65 years, 62 for officials and 60 for staff. The new scheme is supposed to provide pension after 60 years. The university teachers get two festival bonuses and one Boishakhi bonus every year and medical allowance every year. The new system does not state anything about these bonuses.

DUTA general secretary Zeenat Huda told Prothom Alo, “The existing facilities have been curtailed through introducing prottoy. This is against the autonomy of the university.”

We’ve held a meeting with the education minister and submitted a report prepared by a five-member committee. We showed them how insulting the prottoy scheme is for us. But we are yet to see any initiative by the government.”

Teachers of all the public universities observed work abstention on 30 June, 2024 demanding withdrawal of prottoy scheme of the universal pension scheme
Prothom Alo

There are currently over 16,000 teachers in 55 public universities of the country. The number of officials and staff is around 35,000.

Education minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury was asked about the movement of the teachers at a press conference yesterday. He

He said that the prottoy scheme is not only for universities but for all autonomous institutions. Launching any separate scheme for the universities would require discussion with the finance ministry.

Asked if the ministry will hold any discussion with the university teachers to avert any possible impasse on the university campuses, the minister replied , “In a democratic country everyone has the right to do politics and freedom of speech. I will take action considering the situation”.

Work abstention starts today

The public university teachers observed full-day work abstention yesterday in campuses across the country. The Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers' Associations at a press briefing on DU campus declared work abstention sine die.

The teachers are waging the protest in three demands-- withdrawal of universal pension scheme, inclusion of the university teachers in super grade and a separate pay scale for the teachers—while the officials and staff’s only demand is withdrawal of the pension scheme.

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The teachers had been waging a movement since the prottoy scheme was launched on 13 March. The demonstrating teachers observed half-day work abstention for three consecutive days last week. Until today, the exams were outside of the purview of work abstention that the university teachers have been observing to press home their demands.

In yesterday's press briefing in front of the Arts Building in DU, FBUTA president Md Akhtarul Islam said their movement is for the future generation and the education system of the country.

Federation’s secretary general and DUTA’s president Md Nizamul Haque Bhuiyan read out the written statement.

BUET teachers association’s president Md Mizanur Rahman, Jahangirnagar University teachers association’s president Motaher Hossain, Jagannath University teachers association’s acting president Md Momin Uddin, among others, spoke at the function.