Union Labour Minister’s meeting with Central Trade Unions

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

Read 1977 times