Overhaul of EPFO body: RSS-backed group dominates, Congress and Left trade units excluded

Before this recent overhaul, the CBT underwent restructuring in November 2018, which included representatives from a diverse set of trade unions, including BMS, CITU, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, AIUTUC, and INTUC.

In a significant revamp of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the government has restructured its Central Board of Trustees (CBT) following the completion of its five-year term. The move, outlined in a notification issued on Friday, reveals a notable shift in the composition of the board, raising eyebrows as affiliations with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-linked Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) take centre stage.

Out of the 10 employee representatives on the newly reconstituted EPFO board, three belong to the RSS-affiliated BMS. This shift in balance comes as the Congress and Left trade units, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), find themselves excluded from representation. The revised board features members from various trade unions, with one representative each from Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Trade Union Coordination Centre, Self Employed Women’s Association, and National Front of Indian Trade Unions.

Additionally, the EPFO board includes five representatives from the central government, four from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, one from the Ministry of Finance, and 15 representatives from different state governments. This reshaping of the board’s composition is expected to have implications for the policies and decisions governing the EPFO, which plays a pivotal role in managing provident funds and related matters for employees across the country.

The exclusion of trade units affiliated with the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Congress from the current representation raises questions about the ideological balance within the EPFO. Before this recent overhaul, the CBT underwent restructuring in November 2018, which included representatives from a diverse set of trade unions, including BMS, CITU, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, AIUTUC, and INTUC.

The CBT, as the governing body of the EPFO, operates as a tripartite, statutory entity established by the central government. Its structure comprises representatives from employees and employers’ unions, along with government officials. This body serves a crucial role in formulating and implementing policies related to provident funds and various provisions under the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, of 1952.

The Chairman of the CBT, who is also the union minister of labour and employment, leads the board. Other key members include the vice-chairman, Central Provident Fund Commissioner, representatives from the central and state governments, as well as those nominated by employers and employees.

As the newly constituted EPFO board takes charge, the altered dynamics in representation may have far-reaching consequences on decision-making processes, policy formulations, and the overall functioning of the organization, adding a layer of complexity to the governance of employee provident funds in the country.