In the context of note ban, Prime Minister Narender Modi and his government colleagues have been carrying on high decibel propaganda about how all the decisions made by the government are allegedly aimed at benefiting the working class and toiling masses. In reality, all the decisions of the government are dictated by the need to shift the burden of the crisis onto the backs of the working class and toiling masses.
Thus, it is reported that in the name of boosting employment generation and exports, the Union Cabinet has given approval to unilateral changes in labour laws and Employees Provident Fund. In fact, these changes are aimed at benefiting the capitalists at the cost of the interests of workers. These changes are made firstly for the garment apparel sectors. At the same time, they have also been extended to include other sectors.
The Employees Provident Fund Scheme posits that employers and employees will each contribute 12% of the wages towards Provident Fund. It may be recalled that two months ago, the government had announced a subsidy to the employers in the garment apparel sector by declaring that 8.33% of the wages would be contributed by the government on behalf of the employers to the Provident Fund. Now, in the latest move, (Press Information Bureau (PIB), December 7, 2016) the Cabinet has decided that the government will pay the entire 12% of the employers’ share of contribution for Provident Fund! Public funds are being shamelessly used to subsidise the capitalists!
Simultaneously, the Cabinet has proposed that Employees Provident Fund contribution of the employees who earn less than Rs 15,000 a month will be made optional. This will be the case not only in the garment apparel sector, but for the entire make up sector in manufacturing. The justification for this is that workers will get a larger take home pay! If the government was so interested in ensuring a larger take home pay, why does it not fulfill the demand of the trade unions for defining the minimum wage as a living wage, linked with the cost of living. Why is it turning a deaf year to the demands of the working class?
The cruelty of the government and its thoroughly anti worker attitude is revealed in its false concern about take home pay of lowly paid workers who are exploited to the bone. These workers will not only be deprived of Provident Fund which they can use in the time of emergencies, the blame for this is being put on their shoulders! Why does the government not pay the 12 % employees’ share of the Provident Fund contribution, as it is doing for the capitalists?
These changes in the Provident Fund rules have been carried out without any consultation with the trade unions or the affected workers. They reveal that the government is pushing ahead on its anti working class agenda of dismantling whatever social security schemes that had been established through years of struggle of the class.
The workers in the garment industry have waged many militant struggles for their rights. The Communist Ghadar Party of India calls upon the garment industry workers and their unions to give a fitting reply to these pro capitalist anti worker decisions of the government.