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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

19th June 2014

Madam Gauri Kumar,
Secretary to Govt of India
Ministry of Labour & Employment
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110001

Sub: Proposals to amend the Factories Act 1948, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act 1986 as circulated through your website inviting comments/observation in June 2014

Dear Madam,

In respect of above-referred subjects, following is our response:

No doubt, the issues under reference along with the tardy implementation of the concerned Acts along with other important Acts surfaced in discussion in various forums during last couple of years but it is somewhat unusual reflecting an undue haste, that proposals for amendments of these three Acts have been circulated almost one after another within a span of a fortnight in June 2014, even before formally consulting the central trade unions before giving the amendment proposals a final shape, as per usual practice.

Amendments to above Acts, you will appreciate, are going to have direct impact on the workers. Before going in for scrutinizing the proposals clause by clause, the issue itself needs to be discussed with the Central Trade unions -the main stakeholder representing those directly effected or affected by the such amendments to decide on issues and priorities of such amendment exercise.

There are number of incongruities/inconsistencies in the proposals for amendments which are required to be closely looked into. For example, amendment proposals on Minimum Wages Act 1948 finalised in late 2013 referred to the discussion in 40th Indian Labour Conference held in November 2005 but has not taken into account at all the consensus recommendation of the 44th Indian Labour Conference held on 14-15 February 2012 which laid down the basis of formulating the minimum wage level. There are other examples too.

However, CITU urges upon that, the entire issue including priorities of amendments to the said Acts should be discussed with the Central Trade Unions before finalization of the proposals of amendments and any step taken thereon.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
General Secretary

 23rd June 2014


Dear Shri Narendra Modi Ji,

It is learnt from the press report that the Govt is considering increase in price of natural gas based on the exercises made in that regard by the previous Govt.  In this regard, I would like to bring to your notice certain facts and request you to exercise due diligence in the matter before taking any decision.

I had written several letters to your predecessor Prime Minister as well requesting not to allow such exercise of such huge price hike of natural gas based on a tailor-made formulae just to facilitate windfall gains for the contractor/s handling natural as well national resources. Natural gas is being produced domestically and must be priced based on cost plus reasonable returns on investment. Any other methodology of pricing having no relevance with the cost of production in the name of “market-determined” or “arm’s length basis”, tailor-made to benefit the contractor is bound to have perverse impact on the economy as well as people at large. I request to please consider this aspect seriously.  

During the UPA-II regime, the power and fertilizer ministries vehemently opposed the whole exercise for increasing the price of natural gas based on Rangarajan Committee recommendation on valid grounds.  They highlighted the huge subsidy burden on the Govt as a result of the proposed doubling of the gas price(from $4.2 to $8.4) as per the new formulae. The fertiliser ministry estimated that the additional subsidy requirement would be Rs.14,500 crore per annum from 2013-14 to 2016-17 and Rs. 19,000 crore from 2017-18 onwards (assuming Rs 60=1$ and increase from $4.2 to $8.4 per mmbtu). Similarly, the power ministry estimated that the impact would be Rs. 29,800 crore per annum, based on the requirement of existing plants and Rs. 46,360 crores, if one considered the capacity under construction as well. Thus the increased requirement of subsidy annually would be Rs. 44,860 crores on a conservative basis and Rs. 66,360 crores if all the new plants were commissioned. It should be noted that these numbers were mentioned in the Cabinet note itself.

And while the burden on the Govt and therefore on the people will increase phenomenally owing to the proposed doubling of the natural gas price, the contractor’s profit will also increase in a big way  thereby  making the whole exercise for pricing- a mechanism for a transfer from public to private kitty.  If we assume a very modest production of only 50 mmscmd, against the required production figure of 80 mmscmd, the calculations  show that the proposed increase in gas-price from $4.2 per mmbtu ($1=Rs60) will lead to an additional revenue of RIL to the tune of Rs18000 crore in one year or Rs90000 crore over a period of five years.

Is there any justification for such open loot of the country's natural resources by a private company? This additional profit will of course be obtained from the end users of gas, ie, users of fertilisers (i.e. the farmers of the country) and power consumers ( i.e. the common people of the country).

There has been an attempt to obfuscate the issue by projecting that the price increase would benefit the PSUs more than Reliance. This argument needs to be effectively rejected. There is no justification of benefitting even PSUs out of the way simultaneously imposing huge additional avoidable burden on the public exchequer. Moreover, ONGC and OIL are PSUs with a majority share of the government which also shoulders a part of the Govt’s burden on fuel subsidy. In fact there is a clear precedent for the same. Both ONGC and OIL are part of the revenue sharing arrangement to finance the fuel subsidy of the government. Thus even though crude prices of $110 per barrel are paid to both ONGC and OIL, these are only notional payments. The Government then takes a discount on prices, which is credited back to the government, from both these companies to fund the fuel subsidy for diesel, kerosene and LPG. After the discount, the prices that these companies actually get is in the order of $50-60 per barrel depending on their exact share. It is eminently plausible that the government will do the same for both its PSUs in respect of gas prices as well to fund the increased burden of subsidy.
                                    

Will RIL also be willing to hand over its humungous profits as a result of the price increase towards meeting the enhanced subsidy bill? Will the government levy a windfall tax on RIL to recover these super profits? If these steps are not possible, it is a complete fallacy to compare the situation of the PSUs to RIL.

I would also like to draw your attention to the unanimous recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by Shri Yashwant Sinha, former MP representing BJP.


The important portions are produced below:

"The Committee believes that natural gas is a national resource and a public asset; and therefore any discourse on its pricing policy should reflect this principle so that it is used for the larger national good and not for profiteering."
"In the present economic situation with rampant inflation and a slowdown of the economy, any increase in gas prices will have a derailing effect on the economy generally and the downstream core sectors of fertilizer, power and steel, in particular."
"A scientific cost study in the gas basins warranting / justifying a higher price. It cannot be a mechanism only leading to windfall super-normal profits to entities, thereby putting the cost of private profit on society."
"The Committee are constrained to note that no due diligence was done before arriving at the decision to revise gas price. Neither was any cost or impact study done in this regard."
"In the light of the concerns enunciated above, the Committee would strongly recommend the Government to review forthwith its decision to raise gas prices and come out with fresh pricing which is more balanced and holistic and closely related to the audited cost of production and a reasonable return on the capital invested."

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas also recommended unanimously inter alia that, “ …the Rangarajan Committee formula for arriving at natural gas price should be thoroughly reviewed and reconsidered. The Committee recommend for factoring domestic cost of production of gas for arriving at the price and fixation of price of gas in rupee terms in PSC under NELP regime.”  

As you would kindly note that both the Parliamentary Committees have given an unequivocal report for reviewing the decision to increase gas prices and rejected the Rangarajan committee formula. I hope that this will also receive due consideration by you.

An impression was also sought to be created by the previous government that the price formula was fixed by a committee of experts led by Dr Rangarajan and could not therefore be questioned. But the very composition of the Committee itself evokes certain inescapable questions involving conflict of interest vis-à-vis the task undertaken. It is reported that one member of the Rangarajan Committee, is an associate of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank funded by Reliance. Is this ethical? On this ground as well the matter needs fresh consideration by your government.

We would earnestly request you to take a fair and balanced view in the matter and protect national interest by ordering a thorough review of the proposed increase in natural gas prices.
With regards,  
Yours sincerely,
(TAPAN SEN )
            
Shri  Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister of India
South Block, New Delhi - 110001.

Copy to Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, Govt of India
Copy to Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt of India

Press Statement
 
21.06.2014
 
CITUstrongly condemns the steep increase in the passenger fares along with a hefty hike in the freight charges announced by the government. The passenger fares have been hiked across the board by 14.2% and the freight charges by 6.5%. In addition another 3% service tax is imposed on the freight users and AC passengers.
 
This is going to impose huge burdens on the railway travellers and the common people. The burden will be even more unbearable on the rural migrant workers and daily commuters. The hike in freight charges will increase the pries of all essential commodities and lead to huge inflation, imposing further burdens on the people already reeling under the impact of price rise, particularly the high food inflation. Instead of providing some relief to the people by curbing price rise, as promised by the BJP in its election campaign, the Modi government has imposed further burdens on them.
 
In addition, the BJP led government displayed its disrespect for democratic procedures by increasing the railway fares even when the railway budget is scheduled to be presented in the Parliament in a few days.
 
The"railway fare hike probably is the beginning of the 'tough measures' that the Prime Minister warned the country of.
 
CITU demands immediate withdrawal of the railway fare hike. It calls upon all the workers and other sections of the people to lodge their strong protest against the increase in the railway fares, all over the country.
 
K.Hemalata
National Secretary
C.I.T.U
Monday, 16 June 2014 07:43

CITU Communique

16TH June 2014

CITU COMMUNIQUE

 

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions issued the following communiqué after the meeting of its National Secretariat in New Delhi on 14-15 June 2014.

The CITU Secretariat reviewed the post-poll situation in the country particularly in respect of the issues facing the mass of the working people and the national economy.

Campaign against TMC attacks on the people and the Left in West Bengal

The continued brutal attacks and intimidation on the Left parties and supporters including the common people by the Trinamool Congress hoodlums with the active patronage of the state administration in West Bengal is a matter of serious concern. The number of Left cadres killed after the election results were declared is increasing with every passing day. Many CITU offices have been attacked and ransacked. CITU cadres are bravely resisting and holding their ground despite such attacks in which many of them were grievously injured. CITU calls upon the working class in general and the CITU unions in particular to hold widespread solidarity campaigns throughout the country against such nefarious attack on the democratic people and the Left in West Bengal.

Renewed initiative for united struggle by trade unions

The national economy is in a serious crisis with continuing price-rise, aggravating unemployment, widespread industrial sickness and rampant closure/shutdown of industrial units throwing thousands of workers out of livelihood. The onslaught on the workers’ earnings, their social security and trade union rights continues to be widespread with the employers violating all basic labour laws with impunity.

It is a matter of satisfaction that in this situation all the central trade unions have expressed their determination to stay united on the common demands of the workers and submitted a joint memorandum to the Union Finance Minister in the pre-budget consultation meeting held on 6th June 2014. They have unitedly urged for a clear directional change in the policies that were pursued by the previous regime, landing the people and the economy in the present crisis. There is an urgent for renewed initiative and intervention by the entire trade union movement in the country in defence of the rights and livelihood of the workers taking forward the united movement of the last five years.

Immediate issues for concrete action by the Govt

The Central Board of Trustees of EPF unanimously agreed to enhance the minimum amount of pension under the Employees’ Pension Scheme and to enhance the ceiling on eligibility criteria under the EPF scheme to Rs 15000 with effect from 1st April 2014, which was approved by the then Union Cabinet in February 2014. The present government must immediately issue the notification in this matter. The government must also implement without delay the unanimous recommendations of successive sessions of the Indian Labour Conference, the highest tripartite forum of the country, on 1)enhancing the statutory minimum wage, 2)universalisation of social security including pension and recognising the workers under various central government schemes, viz. anganwadi employees, mid day meal workers, ASHAs, Sarva Siksha Abhiyan etc, as workers with attendant rights to statutory minimum wages, social security benefits and the right to organise and also 3) same wages and benefits as regular workers to the contract workers doing the same and similar jobs.

Imminent dangers and attacks on labour rights

The reported moves of the Modi government to deregulate financial sector of the economy including banks and insurance, allow enhanced FDI in Defence Sector and push through the further disinvestment/privatization of the blue-chip public sector units in the most strategic and sensitive sector of the economy, cause serious concern. These retrograde moves are in no way in the interests either of the country’s economy or the people at large and must be opposed resolutely by the trade union movement.

The BJP led Rajasthan government is reportedly taking measures to bring about drastic pro-employer changes in Industrial Disputes Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Factories Act –all aimed at empowering the employers to retrench workers at will, delinking the contract labour from the concerned establishment and relieving the principal employers from all responsibilities, and pushing more than fifty per cent of the factories and their workers out of the purview and protection of any labour law. CITU strongly denounces these anti worker moves. This is a signal of similar anti-worker measures being initiated at the national level by the central government in the days to come. Trade union movement must prepare itself to fight back and resist such anti-people and anti-worker designs.

CITU General Council meeting

CITU will hold the meeting of its General Council in Bellary in Karnataka on 11-14 July 2014 to discuss its future course of action. 460 members from all over the country are expected to participate in the meeting. The National Secretariat finalised the contours of the report to be presented to the General Council and the preparatory work by the reception committee.

                                                                                       

                                                                                                        TAPAN SEN

                                                                                                        General Secretary

13th June 2014

Dear Shri Chandrasekharan,
 
It is shocking that a grievous accident took place at Blast Furnace of  Bhilai Steel Plant on 12th night in which six employees including a DGM, an officer, three workers including a contract worker were reportedly  killed on the spot and around 32 employees got severely injured.
 
On behalf of CITU, I convey my sincere condolence to the bereaved family members of the deceased employees and their fellow workers and employees in the plant.
 
I am sure that the management is seized with proper treatment of those injured including the contract workers.
 
At the same time, you will please appreciate, the manner the accident took place warrants a serious review of the safety management situation including the preventive safety aspects in the process of operation.  I have been told that the departmental  safety committees have not yet been constituted in Bhilai Steel Plant, which I understand, is a statutory obligation of the management. I request you to please look into the matter and also institute an inquiry on the accident to find out the cause and anticidents.
 
I hope, as per established practice, the employees killed in the accident including the contract workers would be appropriately compensated and a nearest kin of them would be provided employment by the management. I also understand the management would take appropriate step to pay adequate compensation to those injured including the contract workers besides taking care of their medical treatment to bring them back to health and work.
 
I again join the Bhiali Steel collective in condoling the tragic death of our colleagues while in work and expect quick recovery of those injured and incapacitated. I also request you to strengthen the safety management with the active participation and involvement of the workers and their union to prevent recurrence of such tragedies in workplace.
 
With regards,
Yours sincerely,
 ( TAPAN SEN )
General Secretary
 
 
Shri S Chandrasekharan
CEO
Bhilai Steel Plant
Bhilai 490001, Chhattisgarh
12th June 2014
 
Dear Shri Pradhan Ji,
 
Hopefully, you are kindly aware of the fact that the State-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), with the approval of its Board of Directors, has approached the Delhi High Court complaining theft of natural gas from its Bay of Bengal block by the Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). It is said that RIL is not only pumping gas from its own entitled field, but also from those of ONGC’s reservoir positioned much closed to the common boundary of the blocks in Krishna-Godavari basin to the tune of 18 billion cubic metres of natural gas worth Rs.30, 000 crore since 2009.
 
By analyzing relevant data & other materials, ONGC found that some of RIL’s wells drilled adjacent to the boundary block have been drawing gas from its (ONGC) field and hence chose to sue the RIL in order to protect its commercial interest and natural resources of the country.
 
This situation, as the petition indicated, would have been avoided, had the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) been vigilant while clearing RIL’s field development plan involving drilling of wells at the close proximity of nearly 50 to 350 metres from the common boundary of the blocks with ONGC. As per ONGC petition in the High Court, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and RIL did not adhere to the globally-accepted mechanism stipulated in the production-sharing contract signed by Ministry and RIL for block KG-DWN-98/3.
 
As per report in the print media, “Documents with The Indian Express show that the Exploration Division of the Ministry was regularly appraised of the joint meetings between RIL and ONGC conducted by DGH on sharing geological and geophysical data of their blocks KG-DWN-98/3, and G-4 Godavari and KG-DWN-98/2 blocks. DGH was regularly informing the Joint Secretary (Exploration) who is also on the Board of Directors on ONGC.”
 
ONGC had approached the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) long back with a request to share production and well data of KG-D6 field for analyzing if the reservoir of the neighbouring field has same and continuous gas pool. But, it has been pointed out that, “the watchdog failed to take steps to prevent such a situation, resulting in a loss of crores of rupees to ONGC.” On the other hand, it has also been alleged that the government had not followed the internationally accepted global norm for joint development that had been provided for in the Production Sharing Contract (PSC).
                                      
Under the circumstances there is strong reason to believe that ONGC has been rather forced to approach the Court of Law against RIL after failing to prevent the loss of huge revenue by resolving the issue amicably through every possible manners including intervention of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.  On the contrary in the absence of such step it would have amounted to grave omission on the part of the Maharatna Oil PSU to act to safeguard interest of the nation.
 
In the meantime, it is shocking to note that motivated interpretation of the whole episode is floated and wild allegations against ONGC are being hurled by vested interest with the intention to derail the whole rightful approach of ONGC.  I request you to please ensure that interest of the Government exchequer and commercial right of ONGC is fought at all cost and any motivated ploy by the vested interests is defeated.
 
Latest status of case may be shared please.
 
With regards,

Yours sincerely,
( TAPAN SEN )

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan,
Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
Government of India,
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi

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   

 

Press Release       

31st May 2014



It is reported in the media, that a circular has been issued by EPFO, stating that employers paying Provident Contributions to their employees can limit their contributions to the salary limit of Rs.6500 per month.    It is reported that the clarification is on the basis of a Supreme Court judgment in 2011.  What prompted the EPFO to issue a circular now after such a long time is not known.    CITU demands that this should no way result in curtailing the existing benefits  in the matter of PF contribution of employer which the employees in various private and public sector enterprises are now getting.    In this context, CITU wants to point out that the Govt. has not yet implemented the decision of CBT to increase the salary limit to Rs.15,000 per month for PF contribution which was to be implemented from 1st April 2014.  The decision to increase the wage ceiling and  and also to increase the minimum pension to Rs.1000 per month was unanimously taken by Central Board of Trustees and approved by Cabinet in February 2014.    CITU while demanding immediate implementation of increased ceiling and minimum pension of Rs.1000, also demands that the circular of EPFO should not lead to curtailment of existing benefits to any worker.                                  

 Issued by
( A K PADMANABHAN )
President


Press Release                                 

30th May 2014

CITU OPPOSES MOVE FOR
 ALLOWING 100% FDI IN DEFENCE PRODUCTION
 FOR DISINVESTMENT/PRIVATISATION OF PSUs

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) strongly opposes Modi government’s move, as reported by the media, for allowing 100% FDI in defence sector. Such move is totally detrimental to the interests of the indigenous defence production network, mainly under government departments and PSUs, and also to national security-management and preparedness. Such move would also directly provoke disinvestment/privatization of the Defence PSUs and Ordinance factories establishment via corporatization route which could so long be successfully resisted by the united trade union movement in the country as well as all the defence sector federations including those having allegiance with the political party in power.   

The CITU also expresses its deep concern and strong opposition to the overzealous drive of the government to push through disinvestment of shares in highly profit-making PSUs, mostly in the strategic, infrastructure and natural resources sector of the economy. As reported by the press, the Government has reportedly taken up as their priority agenda for off-loading government’s residual stakes at aluminum major BALCO and also expediting disinvestment in other blue-chip PSUs already shortlisted by the disinvestment department of the previous Government.   

CITU urges the Government to take serious note of the unanimous opposition of the working people of the country, who actually creates GDP for the country as well as resources for the national exchequer to such disastrous exercises of disinvestment and privatization and unrestricted FDI. Such opposition has been voiced through numerous agitations by the united platform of the entire trade union movement in the country irrespective of affiliations and political allegiances during last five years.

CITU demands of the Government to restrain itself from such moves which are detrimental to the interests of the people as well as of the national economy; and calls upon the trade unions and working people to unitedly voice their opposition and put up resistance to such disastrous moves.  

Issued by

( TAPAN SEN )
General Secretary

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