The Narendra Modi government announced a slew of employee-friendly measures on Tuesday but trade unions rejected them and said that their September 2 strike was very much on.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made two significant announcements in an apparent bid to pacify trade unions to call of their Friday strike: the decision to pay pending bonus to Central government employees for two years (2014-15 and 2015-16) benefitting about 33 lakh staff and increase minimum daily wages for semi-skilled, non-agricultural workers.
The financial implication of the announcement is estimated at Rs. 1,920 crore.
"The bonus entitlement for 2014-15 and 2015-16 will be released on the revised norms for central government employees. This was pending for two years. After this, the bonus will be covered under the 7th Pay Commission," Jaitley told reporters in Delhi, according to IANS.
The minimum daily wages for semi-skilled, non-agricultural workers was enhanced from Rs. 246 to Rs. 350 from the earlier Rs. 112 with an option for states to pay more, but not less than the enhanced rate.
However, the announcements failed to make any impact on trade unions who said that some state governments are in fact paying more to workers that the government's hike.
"The announcement on daily wages means only status quo. No major demand has been accepted, there is no question of calling off the strike," Tapan Sen of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said, reported NDTV.
On the issue of expedited registration of trade unions, Jaitley said state governments have been duly advised to ensure registration of unions within 45 days (of receiving application).
Except for the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), all other trade unions are part of the strike that includes participation by bank employees.
Bank mergers none of your business
Jaitley dismissed the assertion of bank employees that mergers would affect their employment and said that policy decisions can't be subject to veto by employees. "The merger is not subject of trade unions. If government decides that we need strong banks, then unions would have to change their approach to the whole issue," he said, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
The recent merger in the public sector banking space is of five associate banks of State Bank of India (SBI) and the three-year-old Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) merging with the SBI.