Railway coolies — roughly 20,000 — may soon be part of the social safety net as the government is weighing a cess of 10 paise on every rail ticket to bring them under the ambit of schemes run by retirement fund body EPFO.
This will be part of the government’s overall efforts to bring over 40 crore unorganised sector workers under the social security net of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that this will help mobilise about Rs 4.38 crore every year, which will be enough to provide basic minimum facilities like PF, pension and group insurance to coolies.
Indian Railways issues 10-12 lakh rail travel tickets everyday, including 58 per cent reserved tickets. Thus, the move can help mop up about Rs 1.2 lakh every day for the purpose.
Chairman of the Central Board of Trustees, EPFO’s apex decision-making body, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya assured the members to look into the proposal mooted by employee representative Ashok Singh.
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Singh, the Vice-President of Indian National Trade Union Congress, had floated the proposal at the CBT meeting in Bengaluru on December 19.
A senior ministry official said, “The labour ministry will soon take up the proposal with Indian Railways and the finance ministry for levying the cess, which will be a negligible amount for passengers, but would help bring these 20,000 workers under the social security net of EPFO.”
The official is hopeful that the cess could be announced in the forthcoming general budget, which is likely to be tabled in Parliament on February 1, 2017.
The proposed cess of 10 paise is on every ticket sold by Indian Railways. It will not be levied per passenger. One ticket sold by Indian Railways can have multiple passengers.