Flaying the Finance Ministry’s proposal to invest 5 to 15 per cent of retirement funds worth over Rs 6 lakh crore belonging to about 8 crore depositors in the ‘speculative’ share market, trade unions said they will register their protest in the tripartite body of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

AK Padmanabhan, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), and a member of the tripartite Central Board of Trustees, said the Finance Ministry’s move to “partially amend” the investment pattern had not been sanctioned by the trustees.

“The existing investment pattern, thoroughly discussed and finalised by CBT and notified on 21.11.2013, did not sanction any investment in share market and was being followed for investments from 1st January 2014,” he said in a statement, adding that on March 2, 2015, the Finance Ministry amended the investment pattern by directing 5-15 per cent investment in share market and up to 5 per cent investment in other miscellaneous investments, such as Real Estate Investment Trusts.

“These amendments have been made by limiting investments in government securities,” he said, adding that trade unions will resist investing the assets of workers in the share market.

Earlier, another trustee, Virjesh Upadhyay, General Secretary of the RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, had also voiced his opposition to invest retirement funds in equity or equity-related instruments.

"It is our responsibility to protect and safeguard the money of the poor workers as trustees of the fund,” he told a news agency, adding “Why would we invest in equity when government does not give us guarantee against any loss due to such investments."

Padmanabhan also criticised the Finance Minister’s Budget speech proposing to take away about Rs 6,000 crore from the corpus of EPF in order to provide a welfare fund for senior citizens. “The so-called ‘unclaimed deposits’ are the properties of workers who have to be identified and paid,” he added.

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