Finanace minister had prebudget consultation meeting with the central trade unions on 6th june 2014

The Finance Minister of Govt of India called all the Central Trade Unions for  pre-budget consultation meeting  which was held on 6th June 2014. All the Central Trade Unions have submitted a joint memorandum to Finance Minister detailing  the  burning issues facing the working people of the country and the suggestions of the trade unions to address  the same in the process of budgetary exercise. 

The meeting was attended by Shri Arun Jailley, Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitaraman, Minister of State for Finance along with Secretaries of Finance Ministry as well as Labour Ministry. The Central Trade Unions were represented by B N Rai and Mr Upadhyay (BMS), Chandraprakash Singh and Shantakumar(INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur and D L Sachdeva(AITUC) Sharad Rao and Harbhajan Singh Sidhu(HMS), Tapan Sen and Swadesh Dev Roye (CITU), Sankar Saha (AIUTUC), Abani Roy (UTUC), S P Tewari (TUCC), Mr  Sammugham (LPF), Santosh Roy (AICCTU) among others.

Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU, while presenting the trade unions’ views before the Finance Minister pointed out that the joint memorandum by all the central trade unions in the country reflects the serious concerns of the working people of the country in its entirety who create GDP for the country, resources for the country’s exchequer and also profit for the employer. Both in its contents and essence,  trade unions’ joint memorandum urges upon the Govt for bringing about a directional change away from the path of deregulation, privatization, promoting  price-rise of essential commodities for facilitating speculation, patronization of systematic deliberate default in tax-payment by the big-business and corporate houses, state-sponsored and patronized violations of all basic labour laws on Minimum Wages, Social Security, trade union rights, safety in workplaces, mass-scale contractorisation etc  and reckless opening of strategic and sensitive sectors of the national economies including public utilities for exploitation by foreign companies and speculators etc. The same set of policies have been followed by the previous Congress led Govt-all in the name of promoting employment generating investment from private sector, both domestic and foreign to facilitate growth and employment creation,  which finally landed the country in deeper economic crisis, aggravation of unemployment and joblosses, fuelling price-rise and widespread impoverishment and dwindling growth rates. The urgent need of the hour is a directional change in policy regime in the form of a complete ban on speculation in commodity market and universalisation of PDS, augmenting public investment in agriculture,  infrastructure and public utilities, strengthening and empowering  of public sectors units in strategic and sensitive sectors of economy including financial sector, energy, defence,  and natural resources and complete stoppage of all disinvestment and privatization moves and concrete steps and budgetary support for revival of sick but potentially viable PSUs, Tapan Sen asserted. It was also pointed out that all the central trade unions have been jointly struggling pressing for their ten-point demands and on many of them there has already been a consensus at tripartite forums including in the successive Indian Labour Conferences till 2013. Issues of consensus are formulation of Minimum Wage (which should be at present price level should not be less than Rs 15000/-), universlisation of social security including pension, regularization of all scheme workers in anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, sarb-siksha aviyan, child-labour projects and similar other centrally funded schemes, same wage and benefits  for the contract workers in line with regular workers etc. Sen demanded that the central budget must make provisions for at least for meeting the demands, on which there have been general consensus at the highest  tripartite level (comprising all governments, trade unions and employers’ organizations)  like Indian Labour Conference for the sake of propriety and fairness.

The Finance Minister, thanked the trade union representatives for their suggestions and submissions.     

Text of the joint memorandum is reproduced below:

CENTRAL TRADE UNIONS JOINT MEMORANDUM TO FINANCE MINISTER

6th June 2014
The Hon’ble Minister of Finance,
Govt. of India,
North Block,
New Delhi    

Dear Sir,

We welcome you over your takeover as Finance Minister of the new Govt. formed on verdict of the people of India and thank you for having invited the Central Trade Unions representing the most important stake holder, the working men and women of this country, in both organized as well as unorganized sector, to this pre-budget consultations.

We wish that our candid observations, considered views and concrete proposals are taken in the right spirit and responded with all seriousness and given appropriate reflections in the ensuing budget 2014-15.

Our proposals:

Some of these specific proposals have time and again been placed by us in various policy making fora including the earlier pre-budget consultations. However, we would like to reiterate them, urging  your positive response:

•    Take effective measures to arrest the spiraling price rise and to contain inflation; Ban speculative forward trading in commodities; Universalise and strengthen the Public Distribution System; Ensure proper check on hoarding; Rationalise, with a view to reduce the burden on people, the tax/duty/cess on petroleum products.


•    There must be massive investment in the infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy for job creation. It is our considered view that the Public sector should take the leading role in this regard. The plan & non-plan expenditure should be increased in the budget to stimulate jobs creation and guarantee consistent income to people.


•    Minimum wage linked to Consumer Price Index must be guaranteed to all workers, taking into consideration the recommendations of the 15th Indian Labour Conference as enriched by Apex Court of the country as reiterated in 44th ILC in 2012. In any case, it should not be less than Rs.15,000/- p.m.


•    FDI should not be allowed in crucial sectors like defence production, telecommunications, Railways, financial sector, retail trade, education, health and media.


•    The public sector units played a crucial role during the year of severe contraction of private capital investment immediately following the outbreak of global financial crisis. PSUs should be strengthened and expanded. Disinvestment of shares of profit making public sector units should be stopped forthwith. Budgetary support should be given for revival of potentially viable Sick CPSUs.


•    In view of huge joblosses and mounting unemployment problem, the ban on recruitment in Govt. deptts, PSUs and autonomous institutions (including recent Finance Ministry’s instruction to abolish those posts not filled for one year) should be lifted as recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference. Condition of surrender of posts in govt. departments and PSUs should be scrapped and new posts be created keeping in view the new work and increased workload.


•    Proper allocation of funds be also made for interim relief and 7th Pay Commission.


•    The scope of MGNREGA be extended to agriculture operations and urban areas as well and employment for minimum period of 200 days with guaranteed statutory wage be provided, as unanimously recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference.


•    The massive workforce engaged in ICDS, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Siksha Mitra, the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) and other schemes be regularized. No to privatization of centrally funded schemes. Universalisation of ICDS be done as per Supreme Court directions by making adequate budgetary allocations.


•    Steps be taken for removal of all restrictive provisions based on poverty line in respect of eligibility coverage of the schemes under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 and allocation of adequate resources for the National Fund for Unorganised Workers to provide for Social Security to all unorganized workers including the contract/casual and migrant workers in line with the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and also the 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference.


•    Remunerative Prices should be ensured for the agricultural produce and Govt. investment public investment in agriculture sector must be substantially augmented as a proportion of GDP and total budgetary expenditure. It should also be ensured that benefits of the increase reach the small, marginal and medium cultivators only;


•    Budgetary provision should be made for providing essential services including housing, public transport, sanitation, water, schools, crèche health care etc. to workers in the new emerging industrial areas. Working women’s hostels should be set up where there is a concentration of women workers.


•    Requisite budgetary support for addressing crisis in traditional sectors like Jute, Textiles, Plantation, Handloom, Carpet and Coir etc.


•    Budgetary provision for elementary education should be increased, particularly in the context of the implementation of the ‘Right to Education’ as this is the most effective tool to combat child labour.


•    The system of computation of Consumer Price Index should be reviewed as the present index is causing heavy financial loss to the workers.


•    Income Tax exemption ceiling for the salaried persons should be raised to Rs.5 lakh per annum and fringe benefits like housing, medical and educational facilities and running allowances should be exempted from the income tax net in totality.


•    Threshold limit of 20 employees in EPF Scheme be brought down to 10 as recommended by CBT-EPF. Pension benefits under EPS unilaterally withdrawn by the Govt. should be restored. Govt. and Employers contribution be increased to allow sustainability of Employees Pension Scheme and for provision of minimum pension of Rs.3000/- p.m.


•    New Pension Scheme be withdrawn and newly recruited employees of central and state govts on or after 1.1.2004 be covered under Old Pension Scheme;


•    Demand for Dearness Allowance merger by Central Govt. and PSUs employees be accepted and adequate allocation of fund for this be made in the budget;


•    All interests and social security of the domestic workers to be statutorily protected on the lines of the ILO Convention on domestic workers.


•    The Cess Management of the construction workers is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry under the Act and the several irregularities found in collection of cess be rectified as well as their proper utilization must be ensured.

In regard to resource mobilization, we would like to emphasize the following:

•    A progressive taxation system should be put in place to ensure taxing the rich and the affluent sections who have the capacity to pay at a higher degree. The corporate service sector, traders, wholesale business, private hospitals and institutions etc. should be brought under broader and higher tax net. Increase taxes on luxury goods and reduce indirect taxes on essential commodities as at present the overwhelming majority of the populations are subjected to Indirect taxes that constitute 86% of the revenue.


•    Concrete steps must be taken to recover huge accumulated unpaid tax arrears which has already crossed more than Rs.5 lakh crore on direct and corporate tax account alone, and has been increasing at a geometric proportion. Such huge tax-evasion over and above the liberal tax concessions already given in the last two budgets should not be allowed to continue.


•    Effective measures should be taken to unearth huge accumulation of black money in the economy including the huge unaccounted money in tax heavens abroad and within the country. Finance Minister should make provisions to bring back the illicit flows from India which are at present more than twice the current external debt of US $ 230 billion. This money should be directed towards providing social security.


•    Concrete measures be expedited for recovering the NPAs of the banking system from the willfully defaulting corporate and business houses. By making provision in Banking Regulations Act, CMDs and Executives to be made accountable for creation of NPAs.


•    Tax on Long term capital gains to be introduced; so also higher taxes on the security transactions to be levied.


•    The rate of wealth tax, corporate tax, gift tax etc. to be expanded and enhanced.


•    ITES, outsourcing sector, Educational Institutions and Health Services etc. run on commercial basis should be brought under Service Tax net. Govt.


•    Small saving instruments under postal and other agencies be encouraged by incentivizing  commission agents of these scheme


OUR SERIOUS CONCERN:

We would like to express our strong resentment that the previous Govt. failed to positively respond to the collective voice of the Central Trade Unions on the very important issues concerning the working people of India, both organized and unorganized, consistently repeated in the form of a ‘10 point charter’ backed by several collective nationwide programmes. We expect that this Govt. will take initiative to discuss these issues with the Central Trade Unions in order to find a solution.

We also express our opposition to the so called Banking Reforms encouraging private sector/capitalists banking at the cost of public sector banks which saved the economy to an extent during the last global financial meltdown. We also oppose increase in limit of FDI and disinvestment of equity in insurance sector and FDI in pension. We strongly oppose the FDI in Defence and Retail Sector. Several such measures against the working men and women in this country including anti workers proposals contained in the New Manufacturing Policy have our strong opposition, as in our experience these kinds of measures have helped the growth of only a small section of the capitalists while the larger sections of the working population continue to be marginalized and impoverished.

POST BUDGET MEETING WITH TRADE UNIONS:

Successive Finance Ministers have agreed to hold post budget meetings / consultations with the central trade unions. However, it has not been materialized except for one occasion. We understand such meetings did take place with the Corporate Associations/Employers Federations. We would like to importunate upon you to arrange such post budget meeting with trade unions also.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
           


B N Rai    Chandrapraksh Singh      D L Sachadeva     Harbhajan Singh    Tapan Sen
  BMS                       INTUC                          AITUC                        HMS                      CITU



Sankar Saha    S P Tewari        sd/-      Santosh Roy         Abani Roy    Sammugham   
    AIUTUC            TUCC          SEWA         AICCTU               UTUC                 LPF   

 

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