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Trade unions have called for a protest on March 10 demanding things like control of price rise, employment generation, equal wage and equal work to contract workers, coverage of social security to unorganised sector workers, enhancement of ceiling of bonus, no to disinvestment in PSUs and FDI etc. These are long pending demands since 2009.
A committee headed by Arun Jaitley talked to trade union representatives last year and the govt agreed to accept some of the demands. Recently Parliament passed amendments to Bonus Act increasing the bonus by around 2.5-3.5 times.
The trade unions argue that existing labour laws are not the roadblocks or hindrances for business development or growth. They oppose the argument that rigid labour laws are the cause for slow growth. They point out that SEZs are exempted from all labour laws since 1990s. They question the development that is taking place in SEZs since then.
Recently the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Ministry of Commerce & Industry has issued a circular. It says that entrepreneurs registered 5 years back are also eligible for exemptions (of labour laws) now available for new entrepreneurs coming up under ‘Start Up India Stand Up India’. The trade unions raise objections to such exemptions.
World economy is facing a tough time. Ease of doing business is being spoken loudly as a slogan for growth. But the trade unions say ease of doing business has no meaning without “ease of living”. Hence govt has to consider the relevance of “ease of living” in today’s market economy rather than business.
Trade unions are also opposing FDI and disinvestment. According to some reports, whatever we get by the form of FDI, 8 times of that is going out in the form of FDO (Foreign Direct Outflow).
The trade unions asked the govt to identify the areas where we actually needed investment; like research and development, infrastructure etc. But much of the FDI is not coming to these required areas. Mostly it is going to the insurance sector.
The govt has decided to introduce new steps like allowing women to work in night shifts, rationalization of wages for contract workers, exempting low wage workers from EPF liability, fixed term employment and flexibility in hiring. The govt say that these are the best practises around the world. But the trade unions oppose all these initiatives. They argue that social fabric of our country is entirely different from that of the world. Measures suitable to Indian scenario should be taken. Why should the govt bring night shifts for women when it can’t provide security to them even in the day light itself? Ideals are different from practical approach.
All the trade unions are also supporting the Railway unions in their agitation against the recommendations of Seventh Pay Commission. They say that if the 7th PC recommendations are implemented then their “effective take home” salary will be reduced. The hike proposed by 7PC is lowest in the last 30 years and it is unsatisfactory considering the increase in inflation. The Railways say that 60% of the revenues are spent on salaries and pensions. If they accept the recommendations of SPC, then it would increase to 70%.
The whole economy is dependent on the purchasing power of the decent salaried people. So not giving decent salaries/wages/service conditions or relaxation in hire & fire of the labour affects the whole economy. The industries are not able to provide minimum wages and the govt is not able to control the price rise. It is in these situations that the labour are worst affected.