The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has unravelled its new approach to labour relations that focuses on employment guarantee by making the worker a shareholder, and improved social security net.
“We are suggesting this as part of our proposals for a new labour policy with a view to tackling the fallout of the global economic policy initiatives and developing a purely Indian trade union movement that will uphold workers’ interests,” G. Sanjeeva Reddy, INTUC president, said in an interview with The Hindu.
Elaborating the INTUC’s new labour perspectives, Mr. Reddy said the economic reforms had largely benefited the rich people, industrialists and middle-level traders. The INTUC’s response to these challenges was to change globalisation fundamentally so that it benefited the working men and women, the unemployed and the poor.
The response revolved around the pillars of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental; universal respect of workers’ fundamental rights; decent work for all; promotion of equitable distribution of wealth; organising workers in the informal and unorganised sectors; security of income through security of jobs; and replacement of contract jobs with a new system that provided income guarantee.
“In order to promote investments, the INTUC promises that there will be no direct action such as strikes or lockouts in new units for a period of five years.
“Our only demand is that the new investment projects implement the existing labour laws,” Mr. Reddy said.
He said the INTUC’s proposals in relation to provident fund, bonus and rehabilitation of sick industry were also intended to achieve the objective of employment guarantee.
“We have demanded a Workers’ Capital Trust comprising the pension fund and other social security funds that amount to Rs.7 lakh crore.” The Provident Fund Authority holds Rs.6 billion. This should be invested in the Workers’ Capital Trust.
Similarly, the INTUC is demanding the establishment of a Workers’ Sector Industries Corporation that would takeover sick industries and run them to rehabilitate workers. “This is a new concept which the INTUC has brought up to tackle the problems faced by workers in sick units. The corporation, headed by trade union representatives and other experts, can run the unit till it achieves a turn around,” he said.
Mr. Reddy maintained that there was need to improve the social security laws. This included an amendment to the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972, envisaging a higher quantum of gratuity payments from the current 15 days to 30 days for every year of service.
Similarly, the Provident Fund Act needed to be amended to increase the rate of contribution from 12 to 15 per cent, he said.
Mr. Reddy expressed satisfaction that the INTUC had succeeded in rallying all Central trade unions, including the CITU, AITUC, HMS and other smaller unions, to take up the cause of the workers in the context of the economic reforms.