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Protests against new EPF rules witness violent clash

Bengaluru employs over 35,000 workers in over 500 Garment export units are upset over the new PF rules

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Apr 19 2016 5:33PM | Updated Date: Apr 19 2016 5:43PM

Protests against new EPF rules witness violent clash

Bengaluru: Second-day protests against recent amendments to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in Bengaluru saw violent clashed between the protesting garment workers and the Bengaluru city Police. The presence of over 10,000 protestors led to snarling jams across the city on Tuesday, affecting vehicular movement.

Bengaluru city employs over 35,000 workers in the over 500 Garment export units who are upset over the amendments to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) rules.  From Monday onwards the Garment export Units are seeing sporadic protests across the city, with workers wanting the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the clause which restricts withdrawal of Provident Fund.
As per the new amendments to EPF employees can withdraw only what is their contribution to their provident fund accounts. The employer’s contribution can be withdrawn only after they are 58-years-old.  Shivasundar a leader from the Garment and Textile Workers’ Union termed it an “anti-worker” move.
“Many workers of the unorganised sectors generally don’t get employed till they are 58-years-old. Workers mostly after the age of over 40 years don’t find suitable jobs,”
The state government was caught in the cross fire , over the law and order issue , which left thousands stranded in the snarling traffic jams on the arterial Hosur Road  and Tumkuru Road Protestors blocked both carriage ways at several locations and shouted slogans against the government.
As many ambulances were also stuck in the jam, the police convinced the protesters to disperse. However, as per the police, a section of the crowd pelted stones at the police, injuring four constables.
Hosur Road in south Bengaluru ground to a halt for seven hours for second day on Tuesday while on Monday the area saw protests when 10,000 workers from garment units in the neighbourhood went on a wildcat strike in protest against the Centre's decision to amend rules governing withdrawal of EPF contributions.
Similar protests were reported from near Gejjalagere, in Mandya district which gridlocked the Mysuru Bengaluru highway for over 10 hours. The state Government authorities tried to convince employees of Sri Sai Garments Factory to end their protest. Police were wary of using force against the protesters, led by women.
Unable to control the violent protestors, the Bengaluru police burst over 100 teargas shells and caned the agitators. Bus services were stopped in several parts since noon from Tumakuru as the Bengaluru-Tumakuru road was blocked due to protests on Tuesday.  According to initial reports over ten buses have been burnt and more than 10 buses.
Several dozens of policemen were injured in the stone pelting, while many women protestors suffered injuries in the lathi-charge.
(As reported by Vijay Grover)