The government on Wednesday met trade union representatives in New Delhi to discuss their charter of demands which included abolition of contractual employment and a minimum wage of Rs 10,000, but no resolution was in sight on the issues.
The meeting came in wake of the trade unions observing a two-day general strike in February to press for implementation of their 10-point demands, and the government setting up a Group of Ministers under Defence Minister A K Antony to look into these.
“Nothing transpired in the meeting. We asked for concrete action but all the time they (the GoM) kept saying that things are under consideration,” the General Secretary of CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) Tapan Sen, who attended the meeting, said.
The government continued to maintain the same position which it had prior to the general strike, called on February 20 and 21, he said.
“The only commitment which came out from the meeting was that the GoM decided to call us for another round of meeting soon after internal deliberation,” Mr. Sen said.
Apart from Mr. Antony, the GoM comprised Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge.
Officials in the Labour Ministry said the trade unions briefed the GoM about their demands at the meeting but there was no development.
Wednesday’s discussion came in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating at the Indian Labour Conference last week that there could be “no disagreement” on some issues raised by trade unions during the February general strike.
He had also announced government’s plans for a universal social security cover for workers both in organised and unorganised sector as demanded during the general strike and creation of a national social security fund besides fixing a national floor-level minimum wage and a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month.
Trade unions have been demanding strict enforcement of labour laws, measures for employment generation and price rise, stoppage of disinvestment in central and state PSUs and removal of ceiling on bonus and provident fund and universal social security cover.
The other demands include no work of permanent or perennial nature to be made on contractual basis and payment of wages and benefits to the contract workers at the same rate as available to the regular workers of the industry and establishment.
Besides, they have been demanding amendment of Minimum Wages Act to ensure universal coverage irrespective of the schedules and fixation of statutory minimum wage at not less than Rs 10,000 linked with cost price index.
The unions have already threatened to go on strike once again if there is no progress during the discussion with the GoM.
The Union had termed as “unprecedented” the response the two-day nation-wide strike had generated and said the success should serve as a wake up call to the government for settling their demands.
Most of the major trade unions including Congress affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress attended the meeting.