The Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) in Mumbai has granted an interim stay against the order of the Solapur regional commissioner of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) asking the Myakal family to implement EPF rules for its employees in 17 powerloom units in Solapur. The CGIT-2 granted an interim stay on Monday on the order of Hemant Tirpude, regional commissioner of EPF, issued on July 31, 2017 seeking implementation of EPF rules retrospectively from 2002. The order has not gone down well with the powerloom owners, who have gone on an indefinite strike since October 7, closing operations of more than 13,000 powerloom units and rendering more than 42,000 workers jobless ahead of Diwali.
The Myakal family, which challenged Tirpude’s order before the CGIT, said Tirpude had clubbed together all 17 powerloom units stating that all these units have functional integrity and all owners are related to each other. The counsel for the Myakal family, appearing before the CGIT, said all the units were separate entities, have separate licences, registration numbers, books of account, electricity connection and PAN with different proprietors and partners. Hence, these units can’t be clubbed.
After hearing the submission of the Myakal family, the CGIT admitted the appeal against the July 31 order and granted an interim stay till further orders. “There were several flaws in the order of the regional commissioner of the EPFO that will be raised during hearings,” said Satyaram Myakal, owner of Himalaya Trading. Pentappa Gaddam, president of Powerlooms Owners Association, said the association has sought clarity on whether the notices issued to other 300 powerloom units would be withdrawn. “Since the order has been stayed, it means the notices issued on the basis of it should be withdrawn,” said Gaddam, adding that the owners have been distributing Diwali bonus to workers.
EPFO officials said the tribunal’s decision might have a larger impact on other such similar cases. “We will defend the case through our empanelled lawyers. If the order of the EPF is upheld, then all the powerloom owners will have to implement the EPF retrospectively,” added the official. Narasayya Adam, a labour leader, said it was sad that an interim stay had been granted but the union would take the issue to the High Court or the Supreme Court if necessary to get justice for powerloom workers.