Bengaluru on the boil as workers’ protest widens

Bengaluru protest

Bengaluru protest

Bengaluru was on the boil on Tuesday as protests against the new Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal norms spread to different parts of the tech hub.
Protesters torched several vehicles in different parts of the city. At least 15 buses belong to the state road transport corporation were set on fire.

Police had to resort to baton charging and fire tear gas shells to disperse violent protesters in many parts of the city. Police fired warning shots after angry protesters stoned Hebbagodi police station near the Electronics city.

Several vehicles which were parked inside the police station were also set ablaze. 20 people were taken into custody following the attack on the police station.

At least 12 lakh workers, mostly employed in the garment sector had hit the streets on Tuesday to protest a move to bar the withdrawal of the employer’s contribution from the social security fund until an employee attains the age of 58.

The protest was against the central government’s move to amend the EPF Act, K.R. Jayaram of the Garment and Textile Workers’ Union said.”The workers in the unorganized sectors are not sure of being employed till they are 58. Those above 40 are not sure of finding another job, if they lose their present one.” he was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

Spooked by the spontaneous protests, the government has decided to put on hold its proposal to amend the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952. Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the notification regarding the tightening of norms “will be kept in abeyance till 31 July.”

On Monday, nearly 10,000 garment workers had came out to the streets at Bommanahalli and Maddur to protests against the controversial law. Thousands had blocked the Mysuru-Bengaluru highway, leaving vehicles stuck for more than 10 hours.

Protesters had also blocked the Hosur Road, which connects Karnataka to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Appealing for peace state Home Minister G Parmeshwara said: “There is no need for this protest. There seems to be no leader for this protest. The police have acted with great restraint.”