Separate fund for social security of unorganised sector workers being set up

Uniform national-level minimum wages will soon become a reality, All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi has said.

Addressing a State-level rally of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) at the Asramam Maidan here on Saturday, she said the United Progressive Alliance government was taking steps to amend the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 for the purpose.

The rally was organised to herald the two-day all-India working committee meeting of the INTUC which will be held here from Monday. Ms. Gandhi said a separate fund for the social security and welfare of workers from the unorganised sector was being set up.

Workers from other States who came to Kerala were being exploited by contractors and forced to work for long hours. This situation was unacceptable to the Congress, she said.

“I join the INTUC in demanding real changes in the working condition of traditional sector workers of the country,” she said. The Congress governments had over the years supported the INTUC agenda to ensure workers’ rights. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) made big promises to the workers, but nothing was implemented by that party for the workers’ welfare, she said.

Kerala was today the pride of India in terms of development, poverty reduction, health and life expectancy. “Other States are envious of the work that is being done by our government in Kerala,” she said.

On Kollam

Kollam, she said, was a known citadel of traditional industries comprising cashew, coir, fishing, and plantations. These industries had created a niche for the district in the global market. However, the crisis that had gripped traditional industries had considerably hit the district’s economy too. The coir and cashew industries should be modernised through a research and development programme. The working condition provided to cashew workers was generally poor. The INTUC would campaign for comfortable working conditions so that all would be able to work with dignity.

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