In a matter of hours, from deferring the implementation of the new Provident Fund rules, the government finally moved to completely rolling back the contentious norms, following violent protests by garment workers in Bengaluru.
Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the old system will continue. "We're cancelling notification of 10 February 2016, old system will continue," said Dattatreya. He added that the decision was being taken to respect the demands of the Trade Unions that have been protesting against the move.
"This decision will be ratified in Central board of trustees' meeting", he told ANI.
Mazdooron ki ye maang thi aur unke liye main rollback kar diya-Bandaru Dattatreya,Labour minister pic.twitter.com/h7cvew0EoP— ANI (@ANI_news) April 19, 2016
Govt buckles under pressure due to Bengaluru violence
The decision would have barred withdrawal of the employer's contribution from the PF money till the age of 58 years. It was to be implemented from 10 February but was later put on hold till 30 April. Today, hours before the withdrawal announcement, the government had extended the continuation of the old rules by another three months.
To assuage the protesting workers further, the Labour Ministry also said it was contemplating permitting withdrawal of all accumulations by Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) subscribers on grounds like purchase of house, serious illness, marriage and professional education of children. The matter has been referred to Law Ministry for clearance.
Earlier protesters pelted stones at Hebbagodi Police Station in Bengaluru and torched seized vehicles parked there, as the spontaneous agitation with no trade union leading it, spun out of control. Police said they had to resort to lathi charge and fire teargas shells to disperse violent protesters.
At least two Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses and one Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation bus have been set on fire, police said.
Incidents of stone-pelting on buses and other vehicles were reported from different parts of the city such as Bannerghatta and Jalahalli cross, and also near Electronics City, the hub of IT firms.
City Police Commissioner NS Megharikh said the situation was under control, but there "are some issues" on the city's outskirts.
"...we are at work, our officers are at the spot, reinforcement has already gone there. The situation is being brought under control," he said.
Police said other workers, too, have joined garment workers in the protest today. There are approximately over 12 lakh garment factory workers in Bengaluru, the city police chief said.
In February, the ministry had issued a notification restricting 100 per cent withdrawal of provident fund by members after more than two months of unemployment, among others.
The unions have been demanding a complete rollback of the decision tightening the PF withdrawal norms.
-With inputs from PTI and ANI