Protest against the proposed pension reform is turning into a wave of civil disobedience hampering the regular workflow of various entities. Monday, in Yerevan, two acts of protest were held, one of which was with participation of South-Caucasian Railways company employees, the other involved the National Academy of Opera and Ballet personnel.
Around 50 employees of the South-Caucasian Railways CJSC branches in Hrazdan, Sevan, Masis and other towns rallied in front of the company headquarters in Yerevan to show their protest against the five percent mandatory pension fund deduction made from their salaries for January.
The employees claim the deduction has been made without their knowledge or consent.
The company’s trade union leader Ashot Khlghatyan informed the demonstrators that pension funds allocations was being kept at the company’s financial department awaiting the final decision on this issue by the Constitutional Court. Should the CC decide to suspend the law, the deducted money for three months would be returned to the employees, Khlghatyan promised.
However, the employees declared they would not retreat, would keep voicing their protest and go on a strike if necessary.
Passions had not subsided at the South-Caucasian Railways, when another wave of protest rose in the heart of the Armenian capital – the National Academy of Opera and Ballet performers refused to go on stage as a sign of protest against the mandatory pension accumulation component of the reform.
Although the audience was told that three of the actors were sick and that Armen Tigranyan’s “Anush” opera would be performed on February 24, it later became known that the performers had boycotted because they their salaries for January had included a five percent deduction for all those born after 1974.
For months now citizens of Armenia have been expressing their protest against the introduction of the new mandatory pension accumulation system through rallies and marches across the country. The law on mandatory pension savings, which came into effect on January 1 this year, implies 5-10 percent monthly deductions from the salaries of RA citizens below the age of 40, and the state will transfer an equal amount every month; the total is supposed to be saved in pension funds to be returned once they reach retirement age.
The four oppositional factions joined the civil initiative and filed a motion to the CC which led to the court’s January 24 decision partially suspending the application of the law until its final decision to be made in early spring. Meanwhile, citizens failing to make the payments should not be fined.
Before the CC would make its final decision, a number of major companies, including banks and mobile operators, have decided to compensate the money deducted from the salaries for the pension funds.