The West Bengal government plans to take stringent steps against providend fund(PF), gratuity and employee state insurance (ESI) defaulters.
If an industrialist fails to make payments on time after a tripartite agreement has been signed between the state government, labour unions and the industrialist, the state government can go to the extent of seizing property to collect dues.
“We plan to strengthen our machinery for recovery of PF, gratuity and ESI dues from defaulters, and as the first state in the country have also passed a legislation in this regard. We will have the machinery in place within a month or so,” informed minister of state for labour, West Bengal, Anadi Sahu. Talking on the sidelines of an interactive meet organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry(BNCCI) Sahu said, “We need to appoint an officer to look into the recovery issues and take necessary action in the case of defaults.”
Maximum defaults were from the jute industry amounting into PF dues worth Rs 131.61 crore, ESI dues worth Rs 107.16 crore, gratuity dues worth Rs 300 crore and a 1,000 point dearness allowance dues.
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had recently decided to clamp down on the jute mills who failed to pay the PF dues of the employees through coercive and legal actions. There are around 59 jute mills in and around Kolkata of which 52 are operating. The jute industry has been witnessing labour unrest and frequent strikes over the last few years on issues like non-payment of standing provident fund (PF) and gratuity dues.
In May last year, a personnel of a jute mill in Titagarh, North 24-Parganas, was battered to death in his office on the mill premises, while the Sangrami Mazdoor Union (SMU) conducted protests in the premises. The shrinking demand for jute in the packaging industry has also been a cause of concern for jute mill owners.
The jute mills which are not operating are mostly owned by the government and are under lock-out due to the paucity of funds. Even in the operating jute mills, the production has been falling.