After the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in Delhi directed in August that Maharashtra’s powerloom workers be extended Provident Fund benefits under the law, EPF offices in the state have formed special squads to carry out inspections of powerloom units to check on the implementation.
In a letter issued to the Maharashtra EPF office on August 4, the EPFO directed that Provident Fund benefits should be given to workers in multiple powerloom units operating under a single shed and having the same trademark and logo, but being operated as separate units. The cases should be examined carefully to ensure such powerloom unit clusters, to which the EPF law is applicable, should be brought under the purview of the Act, the directive said.
Officials said they have now formed squads for inspection of units or establishments. “In Solapur, around 300 notices have been issued to powerloom units for online registration under the EPF Act and around 40 powerloom owners have met officials expressing their willingness to undertake the implementation,” said an official, adding that they would soon launch a workshop to educate owners and workers and explain the process of online registration.
Another official said the Malegaon office of the EPFO was facing a challenge in identifying powerloom units owing to lack of information or data. “In case of Solapur, the labour unions have compiled information and provided it to the EPF office. But that is not the case in Malegaon as there is negligible presence of trade unions and workers are not aware of such benefits,” the official said. Squads have also been formed in Ichalkaranji where inspection of units is currently underway.
An official said several powerloom units in Bhiwandi were recently brought under the purview of the EPF Act. “Before the August order, around 964 powerloom units with 1,18,763 workers were covered under the EPF Act. Between August and September, 86 establishments with 2,585 workers were covered. Besides, the work of inspection of several units is being carried out and many more may be included in future,” said an official from the Bhiwandi office of the EPFO.
R K Singh, additional Central Provident Fund Commissioner for Maharashtra, with jurisdiction over Solapur, Malegaon and Ichalkaranji, said the regional officers have formed squads for inspections of establishments and action would be taken after receiving the report.