Trade unions are going on a day-long nationwide protest on Friday against the finance ministry’s decision to lower the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) interest rate.
The ministry decided to ratify 8.7% interest rate on EPF for 2015-16 fiscal, which is lower than 8.8% decided by the retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
Tapan Sen, general secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, slammed the “unilateral undemocratic” action by the ministry saying it had completely ignored the unanimous decision of the tripartite body of the EPFO.
“Trade unions across the country will protest tomorrow against the government’s decision to give approval to 8.7% EPF interest rate. We want it to be 8.8% as recommended by Central Board of trustees (CBT).I raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha today (Thursday),” Sen, who is also a CPI-M member of parliament, said on Thursday.
A statement by All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) said: “This is for information that the Delhi units of Central Trade Unions, that is, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and MEC have decided to organise jointly a protest dharna on April 29 against the finance minister for reducing the EPF interest rate, ignoring an unanimous decision of the tripartite CBT.”
“This protest from all central trade unions is to condemn such arrogant, anti-worker approach of the central government,” it added.
Meanwhile, the labour ministry is involved in hectic discussions with the EPFO and finance ministry to avoid another face off with the unions and workers.
Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Thursday said the “problem will be resolved soon”.
“My ministry is examining and shortly we are going to have a sitting with the finance minister. Then we will have a dialogue and see that what solution can come out,” Dattatreya told reporters on Thursday at an industry event.
But his public statement betrays his discomfort over the way the finance ministry quietly decided to lower the interest rate from CBT recommendation.
“The finance ministry’s decision was advisory one and the government which includes my ministry and the EPFO will take the final call,” the minister added.
The recommendation of the CBT, the highest decision making body of the EPFO, has never been overruled in the past. The body has representation from the industry, trade unions and the government with the labour minister as its chairman.
Also, CBT’s decisions on EPF interest rates are taken after considering the surplus that the pension fund body has from its investments.
(With inputs from agencies)