Senior ministers in the Union Cabinet held a round of discussions with the representatives of the Central Trade Unions on Monday to convey the serious intent of the government to resolve the various issues raised in their charter of demands.
Among the Union ministers at the meeting were Defence Minister A K Antony, Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar and Minister for Labour & Employment Mallikarjun Kharge.
The representatives of the Central Trade Unions reiterated their demand for the government to take concrete measures to contain price rise, ensure employment generation, strict enforcement of labour laws, universal social security for unorganized and organized workers, stoppage of disinvestment in Central and State Public Sector Undertakings.
Some of the issues also related to payment of minimum wages of ₹10,000, abolition of contract labour, payment of equal wages and benefits to contract workers at par with regular workers, removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund, increasing the quantum of gratuity, assured pension for all, compulsory registration of trade unions within 45 days and immediate ratification of the ILO Convention No.87 and 98.
The ministers explained to the representatives of the Central Trade Unions the various measures taken by the government to control price-rise and inflation in the country. Particular attention was drawn to the huge food subsidy incurred by the government to ensure availability of food grains to the poor at very concessional rates through the Public Distribution System. The government's efforts to pass the Food Security Bill in the Parliament is expected to increase the availability of subsidized food grains to the larger segments of the population and it is prepared to meet the extra burden on this account. The commitment to help the poor is also evident from the large amount of subsidy for fertilizers and fuel to ensure their supply at reasonable rate to the people.
The Government is also keen to introduce amendments to the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and various other labour laws to improve the conditions of the workers and to give them substantial relief. A National Employment Policy is going to be announced shortly to encourage higher employment to women, to promote skill development and inclusive growth. Some of these proposals are going to be discussed in the meetings of the Union Cabinet shortly. The Government has already approved the National Manufacturing Policy in November, 2011 which envisages the creation of 100 million jobs in the country by 2022.
The ministers pointed out the huge loss to the economy in case the Central Trade Unions go forward with the strike. Apart from substantial production loss, the strike is also likely to cause inconvenience to the general public and loss of wages to the workers. In view of this, the ministers appealed to the Central Trade Union leaders to call off the strike.
At the end of the meeting, the representatives of the Central Trade Unions informed that they are going to discuss the proposal of the Government in a meeting on 19 February and take further decision on the proposed strike.