Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The Left parties will oppose any move by the Centre to dilute the existing labour laws when it comes to Special Economic Zones that are to be set up in the country, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Sunday. "Whatever labour rights exist cannot be changed," he added.

As for the Centre's legislation against child labour what needs to emerge is a package of alternative measures for those concerned as "children are forced into such labour and do not engage in it for reasons of fun or amusement."

Mr. Bhattacharjee was speaking at a rally organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions against the Centre's economic policies.

Increasing economic growth by targeting a higher gross domestic product "meant little if it was not accompanied by creation of job opportunities," he said. "There can be no effective development without creating employment in sectors like agriculture, industry and social services."

The Left is supporting the Manmohan Singh Government "not because we like you [it] but [because we] are compelled to do so to keep the communal parties and forces like the RSS out of power," Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu said that he had asked Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister on earlier occasions why the Common Minimum Programme was not always being honoured. "For instance, the Womens' Reservation Bill is yet to come up," he pointed out.

"We have opposed the Centre on the issue of disinvestments in navaratnas and have been asking Manmohan Singh to move away from its pro-U.S. line," Mr. Bhattacharjee said. It was the intention of the U.S. to get the entire world to adopt policies that agreed with it but many countries were emerging in Latin America to provide an alternative in the global power order, he sai.

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