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The coal ministry along with Coal India and Singareni Collieries have decided to bring 70,000-odd coal contract workers under the ambit of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO).
Coal India executives said bringing contract workers under CMPFO will offer them social security and give them higher returns apart from helping the fund itself, which is facing an asset-liability mismatch.
CMPFO is an organisation meant for coal workers and its operation is similar to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Members of the fund contribute a monthly amount, which is matched by their employer.
Bulk of this fund along with interest and bonus is returned to the employees after he/she retires. A portion of this fund goes into the pension fund, which is used to provide a steady pension. This comes close on the heels of Coal India raising wages for contract workers engaged in mining activities by 50 per cent.
At present, the minimum wage for workers on Coal India’s payroll is around Rs 1,200 per day while contract workers would be getting around Rs 800 following the recent hike. Currently, some coal contract workers are covered by EPFO but a large number of them have remained uncovered.
To start with, the government is planning to transfer workers covered by EPFO in the coal mining industry to CMPFO. This will be followed by bringing contract workers that are not members of any provident fund organisation under the ambit of CMPFO.
CMPFO’s total fund size is a shade over Rs 2,000 crore while it spends Rs 180 crore a month on pensions for some five lakh people. According to a recent actuarial study, the fund was expected to completely go dry by 2023. The study indicated that employees and Coal India jointly need to increase their contribution by some 14 per cent for the fund to sustain in the long run. It was, however, increased by 7 per cent recently, which would help the fund sustain till 2028.
Till 2015-16, inflow into the fund was more than its outgo. From 2016-17 onwards, outgo from the fund turned excess then inflow thus shrinking the fund size. The outgo is expected to increase exponentially from now on as more Coal India employees retire with salaries that are a few times higher than former employees.
At present, contribution by some 2.8 lakh employees has been supporting pensions of some five lakh retired employees.
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