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Indian government continues to attack trade union movement

18 January, 2024The reconstituted panel of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in India excludes the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), a trade union federation comprising of unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.

The Indian government recently reconstituted the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the retirement fund body, EPFO, after completion of its five-year tenure. The newly constituted Board excludes trade union representatives from the INTUC, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), and All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), which had seats allocated to them in the previous body. 

The CBT, EPFO is a tripartite, statutory body constituted by the central government and consists of representatives of employees, employers and government. The Board is headed by the union minister of labour and employment as the chairman and has ten seats for employees’ representatives.

Out of the ten employees’ representatives, three members belong to the government-controlled Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), while two seats have been left vacant in the revamped Board. The membership size of trade unions determines which unions will be included in the Board and how many seats will be allocated to each of the represented unions. 

The last referendum to know the membership of unions was last done in 2002, according to which INTUC and AITUC emerged as the second and third largest unions in the country, respectively, and yet the two unions have been excluded in the new Board.

Sanjay Singh, general secretary of INTUC and IndustriALL affiliated Indian National Electricity Workers’ Federation, says:

“We strongly oppose the exclusion of INTUC from the Board. We represent millions of workers and to exclude us means the government has excluded workers’ voices. Trade unions have been demanding that the government carry out a fresh referendum to determine membership of each organisation.”

The Joint Central Trade Unions Platform has written a letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, expressing their disapproval of the discriminatory and disproportionate representation of unions in the Board.

IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, Apoorva Kaiwar, says:

“IndustriALL condemns the consistent weakening of tripartite mechanisms by Indian government. We firmly stand with our affiliates in their struggle against the government’s arbitrary decision regarding the EPFO reorganising.”