Ignoring workers will harm the nation, says INTUC leader

The central trade unions, which organised a two-day general strike which ended on Thursday, just before the budget session of Parliament, expect some sops from the government for job protection and social security for the working class.

“This government has a pro-capitalist and pro-rich policy. It simply wants foreign direct investment, making rich richer at the cost of the working class and the poor and we cannot expect much in budget 2013-14,” G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president, Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) said.

It is interesting that this statement comes from the leader of the trade union, which is the labour wing of the ruling Congress. “We want a budget in support of the people and the working class,” he said, warning that addressing only the concerns of capitalists would leave the workers in the lurch and ultimately harm the nation.

Abolish contract system

Gurudas Das Gupta, CPI MP and general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), said he did not expect much from the budget. Since this would be the last one before the 2014 polls, the UPA-II government would go in for populist announcements to gain votes. “But I will not be satisfied till the government changed its economic polices which are harmful to the working class and poor labourers.”

The government seemed indifferent to the demands of unions like abolition of contract system, better social security for the unorganised workers, and fixing the minimum wages at Rs.10,000 per month, he said.

A.K. Padmanabhan, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the labour wing of the CPI(M), said the workers would be happy if at least some of the 10 demands which the trade unions raised during the country-wide strike, were accepted by the government in the budget.

He pointed out that job security had become questionable now as more and more employment was given only on contract basis and any worker who did not fall in line with the management could be thrown out any time without much scope for judicial remedy.

While unions were questioning the steps taken by the government for employment generation, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said: “India needs an ecosystem that facilitates an explosive growth of medium-size companies to attain high levels of productivity and catalyse the growth of employment generation and entrepreneurship.

“Employment can be looked at from two perspectives — one is providing jobs and the other creating employment opportunities. For inclusive growth which leads to faster and much better spread of employment opportunities, we should aim to create quality employment prospects not just provide jobs,” he said at a seminar here.

Referring to ‘Doing Business’ report brought out by the World Bank (2011 edition) where India ranks 139th among 183 countries in terms of ease of doing business, Mr. Ahluwalia said, the unfortunate fact was that this ranking had declined from 120 in 2008 to 139 in 2011. “For a country that aspires to be a global economic powerhouse, such a ranking reflects a highly discouraging environment for investors. This is counterproductive to our goal of achieving rapid and inclusive growth,” he said.

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