The Government is headed for more trouble from the Left, this time at Saturday’s meeting of the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation. The CBT is set to discuss the EPF rate of interest for 2007-08. The Left, represented by Centre of Indian Trade Unions and All India Trade Union Congress, are seeking a 12 per cent rate of interest, citing the high rate of inflation.
“In the present scenario of high inflation rate, we are demanding 12 per cent interest. This is also justified as real wages are coming down,” CITU’s Dipankar Mukherjee told HT. “In the current economic situation, 12 per cent interest is needed and we will demand it. But in no case will we allow the rate to be less than 9.5 per cent,” said AITUC’s D.L. Sachdev. Even the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh is backing the demand. “We will also demand to meet the PM as promised by the labour and employment minister at our last meet,” Baij Nath Rai of the BMS, who is also a member of the CBT, said.
Though CITU and AITUC have been demanding at least 9.5 per cent interest — as assured by PM Manmohan Singh in 2004 — for 2005-06 and 2006-07, the rate has been stable at 8.5 per cent. The EPFO has maintained a high rate of interest is not feasible.
But the Indian National Trade Union Congress has dismissed the demands. “Why are they making the interest rate a political issue? The rate will be calculated on the basis of revenues; the present 8.5 per cent is also paid at the expense of reserve funds, which is nothing but workers’ money. Why erode that fund also with such demands,” its national vice-president Ashok Singh asked.