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BW Businessworld

Another EPF Retreat: BMS Pressure Does The Trick, Yet Again

RSS trade union arm Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh's pressure again forces the government to do a rethink on an important policy measure

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When the Narendra Modi government on Friday raised the interest rate on EPF contributions to 8.8 per cent for 2015-16 against 8.7 per cent as approved by the Finance Ministry last week, it again showed how in-house RSS, and its trade union arm, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh's pressure had forced the government to do a rethink on an important policy measure - the third rollback in two months.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya announced the decision to raise interest. "I am happy that finance ministry has agreed to 8.8 per cent for 2015-16," he said.

Last week, the Finance Ministry had approved 8.70 per cent as interest rate for EPF subscribers for 2015-16, even when the CBT had decided on a rate of 8.80 per cent.

The Finance Ministry’s decision was met angry reactions from the middle class, and labour unions, but the BMS was first off the block, and BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay took up the matter with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya.

A BMS delegation met MoS, Finance Minister, Jayant Sinha, with the rollback demand and backchannel routes were activated with the top BJP brass.

The concern was conveyed right to the Prime Minister’s level.

Upadhyay confirmed to Businessworld that he had taken up the issue with Jaitley, Dattatreya and the BJP brass.

When Dattatreya met Jaitley on Thursday, with the rollback demand, it was clear that a compromise was in the offing.

On Friday, when labour unions had called for a strike, the government announced a rollback decision.

Last week’s incidentally, was the first instance when the Finance Minister had not given concurrence to the rate of interest on EPF as decided by the decision-making body.