EPFO Board meet tomorrow likely to be stormy

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (UNI) Opposing the Government's unilateral notification to alter benefits under the Employees Pension Scheme (EPS), Central Trade Unions today said they would raise the issue in tomorrow's meeting of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation.

The 42-member Board meeting is likely to witness fierce opposition from the TUs against the Finance Ministry's reported move to withdraw its deposits from its nearly Rs 53,000 crore Special Deposit Scheme, which gives an assured return of eight per cent.

Talking to UNI, TU leaders said they would also raise the demand for hiking the interest rate on the EPF from the present 8.5 per cent to at least 9.5 per cent even as the issue was not said to be on the official agenda.

The main official agenda of the crucial meeting is restructuring of the Board, headed by Union Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes.

AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said TUs had been opposing the Board's unilateral decision to involve private partners in their management of the Board money and notification to curtail the benefits of the pensioners.

'' We will raise the issues strongly in tomorrow's meeting.

Besides, we will also hold a nationwide 'Protest day' against the government's anti-worker policies on November 21,'' said Mr Dasgupta.

On Finance Ministry's move to ask the EPF Board to withdraw money from the SDS and instead put in the state, central undertakings and the banks to get better results, AITUC national Secretary D L Sachdeva said the government instead should raise the rate of interest on the SDS to at least 9.5 per cent.

Elaborating, he said the government which had been paying 12 per cent of interest, had brought it down to 8 per cent since 2003.

'' We have repeatedly pointed out to the government that the social security scheme can not be regulated by the market.'' On the curtailment of benefits under the EPS, CITU secretary W R Vardharajan said "shabby treatment" was given to the workforce of the country by the government and TUs would not accept the decision which would effect over 4,40 lakh subscribers.

'' How can the government curtail benefits like commutation of 1/3rd of pension at the time of retirement and further reducing the early pension and return of capital,'' Mr Vardharajan asked.

The BMS had already written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the crucial issues, said BMS leader Jagdish Joshi, adding that the Government was refusing to learn any lesson from the global meltdown and still insisting on the management of the board by private players.

'' We will raise the matter and oppose government's anti-labour policies,'' he said.

HMS secretary R A Mittal, meanwhile, said,'' The Prime Minister was bothered to meet the captains of indsutry and made certain concessions to keep their profits in the line, but did not care to take any steps to give relief to the working class who are already reeling under the impact of soaring inflation, stagnation and job cuts.'' UNI KSA GT RP AS1610

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