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MEET AND DISCUSSION OF SIX REPRESENTATIVE DELEGATION OF JOINT FORUM OF 21 – TEA TRADE UNION OF WEST BENGAL ACCOMPANIED BY TAPAN SEN, MP, RAJYA SABHA WITH SMT. NIRMALA SITARAMAN, HON’BLE MINISTER IN-CHARGE, COMMERCE & INDUSTRIES, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA AT UDYOG BHABAN ON 13TH AUGUST 2014 BY 1 PM
 
Discussed in detailed regarding –
 
Policy intervention on the issue of improving the present poor rates of wages in West Bengal and Assam Tea plantation.
 
Minister In-Charge will make necessary correspondences with the Governments of West Bengal and Assam so that the workers can get their justified basic rates and dearness allowances for leading decent lives. For that matter also she is going to meet all the stake holders on 8th September 2014 at Guwahati to take stocks and do whatever required.
 
Closed tea gardens’ issue was discussed for immediately bringing those in normal operations & save the workmens’ acute miseries including deaths on starvation.
 
She affirmed the delegation of taking necessary measures for saving the workmen & opening the closed gardens. But she informed that government of West Bengal has denied the problem of deaths on starvation etc.
 
On developmental matters pertaining to the regions of plantations were discussed particularly health, education and other basic infrastructures.
 
She requested the delegation to write her department on this vital aspect and her government will do whatever necessary for overall improvement of lives of the tea garden residents.
 
On the environmental and climate issues, the delegation brought the very features of indiscriminate mining and deforestation in Bhutan Himalayas and random use of chemicals in plantations.
 
Minister In-Charge took very interest and insight into the matter and requested the delegation to bring immediately this issue before Environment Ministry when she will also take it up in broader dimension of sustainability of the plantation and vital regions of the country.
 
The Minister – in – charge appreciated the delegation for working together and requested for keeping touch with her department on issues of concern.
 
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Ziaul Alam                                                 Mani KumarDarnal                                                      John Barla
 
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P.T. Sherpa                                                  Manohar Tirkey                                                         Saman Pathak

8th August

PRESS RELEASE

A meeting of the leaders of all Central Trade Unions was held at the INTUC Headquarters, New Delhi on 7th August, 2014. Among those participated in the deliberations included Tapan Sen, M.P., General Secretary, CITU, Gurudas Dasgupta, General Secretary, AITUC, Brijesh Upadhyaya, General Secretary, BMS Harbajan Singh Sidhu, General Secretary, HMS. The meeting was presided over by G.Sanjiva Reddy, President, INTUC.

At the end of the meeting, a statement has been issued. The substance of the statement is that all the Central Trade Unions have strongly opposed in one voice the onslaught on the working class by the Narendra Modi Govt. through its move of massive amendment of various fundamental Labour Laws and that too unilaterally totally ignoring the Central Trade Unions.

Therefore, all the Central Trade Unions are vehemently opposed to both the unilateral path and dangerously anti-labour contents of the amendments (already legislated by Rajasthan Government and moved in Parliament by Modi Government). While the role of the Rajasthan Govt. was condemned for their first initiation in the matter, it is understood that things are happening with the approval from the Narendra Modi Govt. at the Centre. CTUs also denounced the move of the Modi Govt to hike FDI in Defence, insurance and Railways and disinvestment in CPSUs.

The meeting has decided a National Protest Convention of Workers in Delhi in the first week of September 2014 where from programme of actions shall be declared. In the meantime, more Rajasthan-centric initiative for powerful united movement of the working class shall be initiated.

TAPAN SEN, M.P.,

GENERAL SECRETARY

 1st August 2014
 
Shri Prithviraj Chavan
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra
Mantralaya
Mumbai – 400 032
 
Dear Shri Prithviraj Chavan ji,
 
I am writing this letter with much shock and anguish on the national disaster and tragedy causing death of more than 200 Adivasi men, women and children and wiping out of the entire Malin village in Ambegaon in Pune district of your State due to landslide triggered by heavy rains.
 
It is reported that your government had had adequate warning months before when repeated smaller landslips had occurred. Yet, no preventive measures were taken by the government.
 
The flow of the backwaters of the nearby Dimbha dam may be one of the causes. Yet, recently, JCP heavy machines were being used on the hillside under MNREGA under Padkai scheme in gross violation of the Act. Despite strong opposition by the local Adivasis the government did not prohibit their use.
 
My organization, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) urges you to institute an impartial enquiry to the causes leading to the disaster pin pointing failures and complicity.
 
CITU also demands that compensation be paid to the families of the deceased and injured; and proper rehabilitation of the surviving people be made without delay.
 
With kind regards,
 
Yours Sincerely
(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary
Press Release                                                                                                                         
 
28th July 2014
                                                                                                                                               
 
                                                           
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions condemns the move to bring about anti-labour amendments in Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act and Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act by the BJP Govt in Rajasthan on which Amendment Bills have already introduced in Rajasthan Assembly. CITU calls upon to organize countrywide protest at the earliest against such corporate driven onslaught on working people by the Rajasthan Govt at the behest of the capitalist class.
 
The amendments proposed in Industrial Disputes Act aim at empowering the employers to retrench workers at will, without prior permission of the Govt in all establishments employing up to 300 workers, and also deny the trade union in any establishment to represent the grievances/demands of the workers unless they have at least 30% membership strength among the workers of the concerned establishment. Moreover almost all protective clauses on contract labour, particularly the responsibility of the principal employer have been proposed to be deleted. Also the employer is being empowered to attribute any failure in production or operation as a failure of the workers as the provision is being made to widen the definition of “go-slow” in the Act. The changes in the Industrial Disputes Act will empower the employers to freely retrench the workers at will in overwhelming majority of the industrial establishments in the country, freely engage workers on contract in permanent perennial jobs and denying them all rights to statutory wages and social security, and victimize the workers at their whims and fancies.
 
The amendments proposed to Factories Act increase the threshold limit of employment for the factories operating without power from 20 to 40 and for the factories operating with power from 10 to 20 for the purpose of being covered under the Act. Moreover the Govt made provisions that without prior written permission from the state government complaint for violation of law against the employer cannot receive cognizance by the court. Punishment provision for violation of labour law has also been proposed to be relaxed. These changes will lead to pushing out a large number of factories and workers out of the coverage of almost all basic labour laws.
 
The amendments proposed to Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act also removes all contractors employing up to 49 workers out of the purview of the coverage of the Act. This will in effect throw out vast section of contract workers out of the coverage of almost all labour laws.
 
In fine, the amendment proposals to labour laws by the BJP Govt in Rajasthan is aimed at establishing a jungle raj in workplaces giving the capitalist class complete freedom to loot and exploit the workers. In fact, the enforcement of labour laws in Rajasthan had all along been worse with the numerous complaints of violation of all labour laws pertaining to minimum wages, contract labour, PF, ESI, working hours, unlawful retrenchment etc have been piling for years without any redressal in almost all the industrial areas in the state. These amendment proposals of the state government are designed to legitimize or legalise all those violations by the employers class.    
 
If the overactive move by the BJP Govt in Rajasthan to amend labour laws in the most obedient service of the employers class, both domestic and foreign, is any indication, the working people throughout the country as a whole are going to face a severe onslaught on their rights and livelihood in the days to come from corporate-servile polity in power at the centre. Already such move is reported to be afoot in respect of number of labour laws.
 
CITU calls upon the working people of the country and all trade unions irrespective of affiliations to organize protest such corporate driven retrograde changes in labour laws by the Rajasthan Govt and prepare for united countrywide struggle to resist such onslaught on their rights and livelihood.
 
(TAPAN SEN)
General Secretary

Resolution against Continuing Attacks on the People of West Bengal and in Solidarity to Struggles against such Attacks

 The General Council meeting of CITU being held on 11-14 July 2014 at Bellary, Karnataka expresses serious concern on the continuing phenomenon of severe attacks and intimidations  on our comrades and also con the common people  in West Bengal by the TMC led goons and antisocial elements since last 37 months since May 2011 and also in the run up to the election campaign and even after declaration of election results. During this period more than 157 Left and CITU activists were killed and the number is increasing every day.  Thousands were physically attacked and injured by the physical onslaught by the TMC goons with the police administration aiding and abetting such attacks and onslaughts. Even after declaration of election results on 16th May 2014 such attacks and intimidation have been continuing in full steam and 12 comrades including two women were murdered. Several thousands are ousted from their areas of work and residence. More than 15000 comrades and activists have been implicated in false cases and many of them were even jailed for months together having been booked on non-bailable cases. Molestation and rape of woman by TMC hoodlums have become almost a frequent happenings in the state. Latest has been the brutal rape of one anganwadi worker by TMC miscreant at Nadia district on 7th July 2014 and it is the same district where the TMC MP had given open threat to get women raped by his men a few days before such dastardly incident of rape.   The Police has been actively patronising such attacks shamelessly. After the declaration of election result, intensity of such attack has increased targeting the working people, both in towns and rural areas. Livelihood of the people are being attacked by way of ousting thousands of small farmers from their land;  evicting contract workers in thousands in several industries and replacing them with new set of workers with lower wages in connivance with the contractors; blockading functioning of numerous small cooperatives and self-help groups through terrorand violence; and even forcibly closing down small shops and similar small businesses through violence and extortions—all designed to maintain an atmosphere of terror and fear among the people at large and prevent any opposition to the reign of extortion and loot by the TMC goons with the active support of administration.  The main purpose behind such attack is to sustain an atmosphere of terror maiming all kinds of dissent and protest against such beastly misrule of the TMC Govt as well as the anti-social and anti-people activities of the miscreants under their shelter. And the basic aim is to marginalise and eliminate Left, it being the only potential opponent to the regime of loot and plunder under stewardship of thecorporates either through TMC in West Bengal or through BJP at the centre.

 The democratic right of holding meetings, rallies etc are being sought to be denied to the Left parties and even other trade unions and mass organisations. Also many non-political progressive organisations are being obstructed to have their activities involving mass of the public. Refusal of permission by the police administration to hold public meeting, even hall meetings and using mike throughout the state at the instigation of TMC has become almost a regular affair. Even labour department officials are being directed by the TMC Govt or their cohorts not to respond to the complaints or grievances raised by the trade unions and not even call conciliation meetings. Massive corruption, irregularities, nepotism, and anarchy in every segment of social life and governance being openly practiced by the TMC brigade is continuing and entire administration has been working overtime to ensure that nobody can raise their voice against such anarchy and hoodlumism. In fact total abrogation of all democratic rights of the people to collectively voice concerns and dissent had been the project of the ruling party in the state and that has gained momentum after the 16th Lok Sabha election. 

CITU and other mass organization of the Left parties have been bravely combating such situation while carrying on their organized opposition and protest against such anarchic regime and denial of democratic rights to common people by the TMC regime and their virtually lumpen-led administration. Other trade unions like HMS, AICCTU and INTUC etc are also joining protest against such attacks and onslaught on democratic rights.

The General Council meeting of CITU, while condemning such lumpen-raj in West Bengal, expresses full support and solidarity with the struggle by CITU, other mass organizations and the Left parties and  demands upon the state Govt in West Bengal to put a stop attack and onslaught on the Left parties, trade unions and mass organizations forthwith. CITU calls upon working people and trade unions all over the country to organize solidarity action and campaign against the ongoing brutalities by the fascistic lumpen-led TMC regime on the democratic people of West Bengal.   

Resolution on Union Budget 2014-15

The General Council meeting of CITU being held on 11-14 July 2014 at Bellary, Karnataka denounces the anti-people Budget (2014-15) of the Narendra Modi Government. The Union Budget (2014-15) is an exercise in piloting large scale FDI-PPP mode in the financial and policy governance of the country under BJP rule. It followed the same policy trajectory deregulation, privatization and corporate-orientation so long followed by its predecessor the UPA Govt which has been rejected by the people in election. And pursuit of these policies by UPA has landed the national economy in gloom with dwindling growth rate, continuing inflationary spiral and aggravating unemployment.  The Budget has set in motion the process of betrayal of the promise for “so called good days” made by Modi in his election campaign. The Finance Minister has said in his Budget speech, “ these are only the first steps and are directional.”

The Finance Minister, just three days before the presentation of his Budget spoke in Rajya Sabha on 7th July 2014 while replying to debate on “price rise” that any exercise in containing fiscal deficit through cutting down expenditure will lead to contraction of the economy in a situation of already dwindling growth rate of sub-5 per cent. He repeated the same statement orally in Lok Sabha while presenting the Budget. But while making high sounded commitment and promises for all round growth in his budget speech, in actual budgetary exercise, the Finance Minister meticulously practiced the same route of drastically cutting down central plan outlay on almost all heads impacting common people like Agriculture, rural development, Transport, General Economic Services and Social Services etc. The Ministries of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Human Resource Development and the Department of School Education and Literacy in particular and Women & Child Development also faced a drastic cut in allocation of funds. The share of SCs and STs in plan expenditure is kept far below (by Rs 47000 crore) the stipulation of planning commission guidelines based on proportion of population. Therefore, the first budget of the Modi Govt took off engineering a deceit on the people.

On the other hand, the Budget has launched onslaught against various flagship welfare schemes. MGNREGA is going to be immediate target of attack due to the policy pronouncement in the Budget that State Governments will have to spend two-third of the revenue transferred in ‘capital asset creation.’ Also a move is afoot to turn the right based employment guarantee legislation into just a welfare scheme with no guarantee in employment.

While engineering a drastic cut in expenditure on almost all heads impacting common people aimed at containing fiscal deficit, the budget remained reluctant in taking any action in arresting organized pilferage from public exchequer in the form of deliberate tax default by big corporate houses which reached a huge sum of Rs 4.18 lakh crore on account of corporate tax and income tax by the end of 2012-13 of which Rs 72901 crore is not under dispute. Rather the measures envisaged in the budgetary proposal to avoid dispute and litigation on tax claim are basically designed the defaulters a long hand to legitimize the default and pilferage from the public exchequer.

Added to this is the decision to constitute the Expenditure Management Commission to look into basically the subsidies for common people aiming at further deduction in the same. The Budget has already proposed a cut in subsidy on petroleum to the tune of Rs 22054 crore which would have a cascading effect on prices of all goods. And such cascading effect on prices of goods and services is going to be perpetual as the Budget announces total decontrol of diesel pricing before the end of current financial year.

Simultaneously, the budget reduced the direct tax leading to a revenue loss of Rs 22200 crore while increasing the indirect tax burden to the tune of Rs 7525 crore. And the manner the budgetary proposal extended liberalized concessions/reduction of customs and import duty on various heads, the additional revenue of Rs 7525 crore in indirect tax means a larger revenue on account of tax on domestic consumption goods to be borne by common people already reeling under continuing price-rise and mounting burden of unemployment and joblosses.  

The Budget has announced raising of FDI cap in defence and insurance sector from existing 26% to 49% musct to the detriment of the interests of national economy. The target for revenue from PSU divestment has been set at a huge amount of Rs.63,000 crore and the Finance Minister has announced that instead of earning dividend from PSUs they prefer divestment of Government equity in the PSUs. Number of measures have been incorporated in the Budget to actually weaken the public sector banks making them easy prey of privatization policy of the Government.

Budget while sounding high on promoting investment for boosting manufacturing sector, practically relied on good intention of the private investors through more liberal incentives and tax concessions. In an atmosphere of shrinking market and declining purchasing power of the people owing price-rise and industrial sickness, incentives and tax concessions cannot boost employment generating investment except causing revenue losses. Rather the measures announced in the budget for liberalization of tax regime on portfolio investment, transfer-pricing and mutual fund and steps envisaged for energizing capital market etc would attract flow of investment more towards speculative market than employment generating productive investment. That will definitely make the corporates and big business, both domestic and foreign, happier while common people will be left high and dry. 

In respect of almost all development expenditure including various infrastructural projects, the Budget relied more on PPP and FDI despite dismal performance and non-materialisation  of PPP during the previous regime. Rather, the Budget indicated further concessions/incentive to private players in the name of reducing rigidities and taking a more liberal approach.

On the whole, the first budget of the NDA Govt has basically turned out to be grossly anti-people in character promoting more aggressive loot by the corporate and big-business houses on the mass of the people. The General Council of CITU condemns such anti-people Budget and calls upon the working people and trade union movement to build united opposition to the said anti-people budget and related policies of deregulation, privatization for promoting corporate loot on the people.            

 

Resolution on Allocation under scheduled Castes Sub Plan

This meeting of the General Council of CITU being held in Bellary on 11 – 14 July 2014 strongly condemns the decline in the allocation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) in the Union Budget placed by the Finance Minister in the Parliament.

The SCSP, one of the most important budgetary issues for Dalits was initiated 35 years ago, became necessary as the SCs were continuously denied their adequate share of government funds essential to meet their needs and improve their conditions. It mandates setting aside a proportion of the total Plan outlay of the Centre and state governments equivalent to the proportion of the SCs at the national and state levels, exclusively for their development. According to the Census 2011, SC population comprises 16.6% of the total population.

However, the total plan allocation in this Budget has declined in real terms by around 4%. Moreover the total share of SCs and STs in the total plan expenditure is falling short by Rs 47000 crores and Rs 14000 crores according to the Planning Commission guidelines based on the proportion of the population. It is also a matter of serious concern that what is being allocated is also not being spent. While Rs 41561.13 crores was allocated for SCSP in the Budget 2013 – 14, according to the Revised Estimates only Rs 35800.6 crores have been spent. There have been several instances of SCSP funds being diverted to entirely different uses like construction of flyovers, Commonwealth Games etc. The Twelfth Five Year Plan document itself had to admit that ‘The expenditure in many states/ UTs was not even 50% of the allocated funds. No proper budget heads/ sub heads were created to prevent diversion of funds. There was no controlling and monitoring mechanisms’

In order to ensure effective implementation of the SCSP, there is an urgent need to enact a national legislation to provide statutory backing to the provisions of the SCSP.

This General Council meeting demands that the government of India should

  • Enact a legislation providing statutory status to SCSP in this Budget session itself
  • The government should allocate 16.6% of Plan Outlays for the SCSP
  • Take effective measures to ensure that the funds are spent for the development of Dalits and are not diverted for other purposes and also that the funds are spent in time and are not allowed to lapse. 

 Resolution on Israeli aggression on Palestine

The meeting of the General Council of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) at Bellary from 11th to 14th July expresses its anger and protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza. For more than one week Gaza is being bombarded by the Israeli armed forces killing more than 165 people including many children. The attacks are being targeted on the residential areas. Latest reports say that Israeli armed forces have begun invasion at ground level also and thousands are forced to flee. The whole region is under threat of escalation of war.

CITU condemns these attacks, which are in contravention of international lands. In the back ground of happenings in the middle-east region, these Zionist attacks by the closest ally of US imperialists will aggravate the situation.

The CITU demands the Govt. of India to condemn Israeli aggression on Palestine and take necessary steps to bring international pressure on aggressors.  CITU expresses solidarity with the people of Palestine and calls upon its affiliates and democratic movements to protest against the Zionist aggression.

CITU General Council Meeting inauguration at Bellary Karnataka

8th July 2014

 

PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                               

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU) expressed serious concern at the BJP Govt’s first Railway Budget, 2014-15 which declares its dependence on so called public private partnership, private investment including FDI for funding its infrastructural and capacity augmentation projects. It reflects nothing but continuity of the same pro-corporate policy of the much discredited Congress Regime, rather in more aggressive form.

Just weeks before the Railway Budget, steep hike in passenger fares and freight charges to the tune of 14.2% and 6.5 % respectively exposed the brazen undemocratic as well as anti-people modus operandi of the BJP Govt. Added to this is the budgetary announcement of linking the future prices of travel with fuel adjustment factor which will result in virtual deregulation of railway fares providing for automatic increase in railway fares with the increase in price of fuel. This is nothing but an arrangement for perpetual increase of burden on common people.

Further, the thrust on PPP, FDI and outsourcing in various segments of railway operation and services as outlined in the current Railway Budget, is going to make the situation worse. Despite abject failure of the same exercise on depending on PPP route for infrastructural expansion and services during the UPA regime as reflected in plan expenditure in 2013-14 falling short by a whopping “Rs 59,359 crore from the target due to non-materialisation of PPP targets”, the Modi Govt also preferred to stick to the same provenly failed route. This means, either the expansion work will suffer or the private investors’ lobby will extract more undue concessions from the Govt in the process of their response, finally increasing the burden on the common people. Precisely, that had been the past experience of all PPP projects in sea-ports, airports, roads etc during the UPA’s tenure which increased the burden on the consumers and the people in a big way.

Despite admitting in the budget the abject failure of the Railways to implement the declared and sanctioned projects even to an insignificant extent, resulting in huge accumulation of unfulfilled projects announced in successive budgets, the current Budget failed to present any concrete roadmap for their execution except giving sound bites on prioritization, time frame etc. Even the new announcements made in the current budget do not have appropriate budgetary back-up, rendering them to be deceptive in real sense.

The Budget sounded high on Govt’s commitment to safety, but kept absolute silence about filling up around 3 lakh vacancies in the Railways, majority of which are related to management and maintenance of safety standards in railway operation.  

CITU records its condemnation to this anti-people and privatization oriented Railway Budget and calls upon the working people to voice their protest against such retrograde exercise of the Modi Govt.

Issued by

(TAPAN SEN)

General Secretary

Press Release                                                                                                      

4th July 2014

 

CITU DENOUNCES THE RAJASTHAN GOVT’S MOVE TO CONVERT THE ACT INTO A SCHEME

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces the move by the BJP Govt in Rajasthan to dilute and scrap the “right based provisions for employment” under Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) as reported by the press. The move initiated by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan to propose various changes in the MNREG Act and the various propositions made thereon are basically designed to strip MNREGA of the legal guarantee for employment and convert the right based Act into a scheme.

It appears, the BJP led Govt of Rajasthan is playing the role, in the backdrop of present political combine ruling at the centre (NDA) to pilot the programme for bringing about all brazenly anti-worker changes in the entire labour law regimes in the country.  Its earlier decision to amend Industrial Disputes Act and the Factories Act etc was also meticulously designed to empower the employers to retrench workers at will, push sizable section of factories and their workers out of the coverage of most of the labour laws and curb the rights of the trade unions. And now the propositions for changes in MNREGA basically seeks to take away whatever legal guarantee for minimum 100 days employment available to rural households in a situation when rural unemployment has assumed an alarming proportion.

CITU vehemently condemns such move of the Rajasthan Govt, demands upon the Central Govt not to indulge in such exercise. CITU calls upon the working people throughout the country and all the trade unions irrespective of affiliations to unitedly resist any such anti-people move. CITU demands that the MNREGA must be implemented in letter and spirit to ensure full 100 days’ work for all rural households and also the provisions for unemployment allowance as envisaged in the Act.   

Issued by

( TAPAN SEN )

General Secretary

27th June 2014

Press Release                                                                                               

CITU EXPRESSES

CONCERN OVER THE GAS PIPELINE ACCIDENT KILLING 14 AND INJURING MANY

DEMANDS ENQUIRY ON ACCIDENT AND COMPENATION TO THOSE KILLED AND INJURED

Centre of Indian Trade Unions expresses severe concern over the gas-pipeline blast in Magaram village at Amalapuram Mandal of East Godavari District at Andhra Pradesh on 27th early morning killing at least 14 people and injuring several others.

The pipelines belong to GAIL and the blast that had taken place exposed the serious deficit and negligence in maintaining the safety and security of the pipelines spreading over human habitation on the part of concerned authority including GAIL and also the main beneficiary of that pipeline, the power plant of Lanco Infotech.

CITU urges upon the State Government and the Petroleum Ministry to immediately intervene so that 1) An enquiry is conducted by a high-power-impartial agency to find out cause and fix the responsibility, 2) corrective steps are taken to ensure safety and security of the gas pipeline, 3) the families of those killed in the accident are appropriately compensated and employment provided to their kin, 4) Appropriate compensation are paid to those injured besides making all arrangement for their medical treatment.

Issued by

(TAPAN SEN)

General Secretary

24th June 2014

Communique from CITU Centre                                                                       

The first meeting between the union Labour Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar with the central trade unions was held on 24th June 2014 at Shram Shakti Bhawan, New Delhi. The Minister of State for Labour, Shri Vishnudeo Sai along with Labour Secretary, Chief Labour Commissioner(central)Central Provident Fund Commissioner, Financial Commissioner, ESIC and other labour department officials were also present in the meeting.

Leadership of all the central trade unions spoke in on voice urging upon the Labour Minister for a directional change in approach and policy so that the legitimate interests of working people who produce wealth for the nation, resources for the exchequer and also profit for the employers are protected and taken care of and also the interests of the national economy and the national assets and resources are harnessed for the benefit of the majority of the populace. Trade unions conveyed their strong opposition to the policy of opening up all sectors to 100% FDI, reckless deregulation of strategic sectors and natural resources of the economy including the financial sector, aggressive disinvestment of PSUs and privatization of crucial public utility services etc. Resentment was also conveyed on the steep hike in railway fares and freight charges through executive order which would further aggravate the already rising prices of essential commodities. Central Trade Unions were represented by B N Rai and Shri Sharma (BMS), G Sanjeeva Reddy and Ashok Singh (INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur and D L Sachdeva (AITUC), Harbhajan Singh Sidhu and B D Nagpal (HMS), Tapan Sen and A K Padmanabhan (CITU), Krishna Chakraborty and R K Sharma (AIUTUC), S P Tewari (TUCC), Rajib Dimri and Santosh Roy (AICCTU), Abani Roy (UTUC), Monali (SEWA), S Sammughan (LPF) etc.

As opening comment, the Labour Secretary, Smt Gauri Kumar stressed upon strengthening tripartism as the most crucial instrument for addressing the problems of labour as well as maintaining industrial harmony and peace for facilitating productive growth of the economy on the path of employment generation. In response, the trade unions pointed out that for strengthening effective tripartism, the Govts, both at the centre and in the states must refrain from any kind of unilateralism and one-sided approach on matters involving and affecting the workers and employers must be made to implement all the labour laws in true spirit. Trade Unions pointed to the recent unilateral move by the state government in Rajasthan to amend vital labour laws in favour of the employers which was resolutely opposed by all the trade unions in the state. It was also pointed out that the central govt also has been taking hurried steps to push through major amendments to number of principal labour statutes viz., Factories Act, Minimum Wages Act and Child Labour Act etc affecting the workers.

The Central Trade Unions pointed out that if the spirit of tripartism is to be upheld and strengthened, then all the consensus recommendations of the highest tripartite forum in the country, the Indian Labour Conference must be implemented in letter and spirit. The successive sessions of Indian Labour Conference, viz., 42nd, 43rd, 44th and 45th sessions of ILC have drawn conclusions through consensus in respect of major issues pertaining the workers like upward revision of minimum wage, universal social security including pension, granting recognition as workers with attendant benefits of statutory wage and social security to the entire workforce in all central govt schemes viz., Anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, Sarv-siksha aviyan etc and same wage for same and similar work for contract workers etc. But nothing has been done by the Govt in this regard. This Govt must implement those consensus recommendations.

The trade unions urged upon the Minister to take serious note of the most volatile situation emerging at the workplaces throughout the country owing to mass scale violation of all basic labour laws and most ineffective, rather indulgent role of the enforcement machinery in favour of the law-violating employers’ class. In fact the law enforcement machinery of the labour department both in centres and the states are being deliberately and continuously weakened with huge vacancies of inspectors, other officials and even judges in labour courts piling up, to create ground for such non-enforcement-all aimed at the benefits of the employers class. The incidence of Maruti-Suzuki at Manesar, Haryana, virtual closure of Nokia plant at Tamilnadu, closure of Hind Motor, Jessop and Duckback and shut-downs in number of Jute Mills in West Bengal are the examples of such indulgence by administration to violation of labour laws on the one hand and outcome of the faulty policies of the Govt on the other. It is the basic duty of any Govt in a civilized society to ensure rule of law in workplaces instead of indulging in anarchy by the employers, the trade unions asserted.

The trade unions reiterated before the Labour Minister their ten point demands on which they have been agitating since last five years in various ways including strikes and urged upon the Govt to expeditiously act in sorting out those bottom-line demands, on many of which there had already been consensus in tripartite ILC. The trade unions also demanded immediate action on increasing the minimum pension to Rs1000/- under Employees’ Pension Scheme and raising the ceiling on provident Fund Scheme to Rs 15000/- on which decision had already been finalized by the previous government.

The Labour Minister while thanking the trade union representatives for the valuable inputs given by them on labour matters, assured that the Govt would accord due consideration to the demands of the trade unions. He also conveyed that on the issue of increase in minimum pension and also raising the ceiling on provident fund scheme to Rs 15000/-, decision will be taken by the Govt within two weeks time. Labour Minister also stated that his ministry’s priority will be to protect the interests of workers and he sought cooperation and help from all the central trade unions.

Tapan Sen

General Secretary

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