Business Times

Union protests over use of EPF funds in losing stocks

The Ceylon Federation of Labour (CFL) said this week it was concerned that monies belonging to workers in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) are being utilised to bail-out private investors facing problems on their investments.

Referring to newspaper reports of EPF funds being used to extricate the Nawaloka group from the predicament it has faced over the “shares against debt deal” proposed by Galadari Hotels, the CFL said in a statement that the Central Bank (CB) has not only rescued Nawaloka but has in the process helped Nawaloka to make a tidy capital gain on their investment by utilising the captive EPF in their hands.

“Nawaloka is said to have acquired the shareholding in Galadari at Rs. 19 per share. The EPF has purchased the share at Rs.34 enabling Nawaloka to do well on their investment. Monies belonging to workers in the EPF are not meant to be used in this imprudent way. Galadari Hotels is far from a gilt–edge investment,” CFL said in a statement.

It said the life-long savings of workers cannot be allowed to be frittered away in risky investments to ‘placate the business cronies of the government’. Specious arguments in support of such investments are meant to pull the wool over the eyes of the unsuspecting workers, the union said adding that ‘it has to be said that the EPF does not belong to the government nor does it belong to the Central Bank. It belongs to the workers.’

According to the EPF Act the EPF is part of the Labour Department and for prudential purposes the management of the fund was given over to the Monetary Board but the Monetary Board does not have Labour Dept. representation, the CFL added.

The union, conscious of the rights and welfare of the working people, was expressing its strongest protest against this action of the authorities and calls upon all other trade unions to make known their disapproval of the squandering of workers monies in the risky stock market.

“We also call upon all members of parliament claiming allegiance to workers interests to wake up from their slumber and complacency and be alive to the insidious manner workers interests are being undermined,” said the statement issued by union General Secretary S. Siriwardena.

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