Centre rolls back EPF withdrawal restrictions following protests
The Labour Ministry rolled back the new restrictions imposed on withdrawing from the Employee Provident Fund. Under the February directive, the withdrawal was to be allowed only after the age of retirement- 58 was passed. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya made the announcement after protesting garment factory workers clashed with the police in Bengaluru. Dattatreya said that the trade unions had requested for the roll-back.
The labour ministry has eased the proposed restriction on withdrawal of EPF (Employee Provident Fund). The workers can only withdraw their contribution to their provident fund accounts. They will be able to withdraw the employer's contribution only after they are 58-years-old. The norms (coming into effect from August 2016) were being demanded by the labour unions to which the government has now acceded.
The new norms for withdrawal of provident fund led to violent protests by Bengaluru garment workers. The protesters blocked traffic on the bustling Mysore-Bengaluru highway and torched buses. Police opened fire in the air after vehicles parked inside Hebbagodi police station on Hosur Road were set on fire by the workers. 62 people, including 24 policemen, were injured in the protests.
The garment workers hailed from 5 factories, including Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd., K. Mohan and Co Exports Pvt. Ltd. and Jockey. The police said the protest was leaderless and not very specific in its demands. It was alleged that a local Kannada newspaper had reported that workers would not be able to withdraw money from their PF accounts, which had triggered the panic.
The angry protesters burnt 3 buses and damaged 14 others. Following this the movement of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses between Tumakuru and Bengaluru was temporarily stopped.
The district unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) rebuked the police brutality on workers in Bengaluru during their protest against new PF norms. CITU has decided to stage a protest against the government for trying to suppress the "voice of the working class". CITU blamed the Centre for attempting to "scuttle the rights of workers" by amending labour laws.