`Promotion of anti-worker agenda'
Demand to raise PF rateImplementation of rural scheme criticised
Bangalore: The UPA Government has not kept many promises made in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) and instead promoted an "anti-worker agenda", the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) observed in its deliberations on the first day of the national conference here on Thursday.
CITU national president M.K. Pandhe said bills on unorganised workers and agricultural labourers were yet to be framed. The interest rate on provident fund had been slashed to eight per cent and a large majority of workers was not covered under the Bonus Act. He demanded that the PF rate be raised to 10 per cent and all employees brought under the Bonus Act.
Opposing the proposed formation of the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority, he said it was an effort to privatise the entire social security net by diverting workers' money into the speculative share market.
He criticised the manner in which the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was being implemented.
The scheme was not only trapped in "bureaucratic bungling", but also left out the entire urban unemployed out of its ambit. The CMP, he pointed out, had promised a scheme to provide universal employment.
While the unorganised sector was totally unprotected, there was no comprehensive law against sexual harassment on women in workplaces despite a Supreme Court direction to frame one, Mr. Pandhe said. Trade union leaders raising questions on working conditions and hours of work were being attacked everywhere, he added.
Earlier in the day the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha and Karnataka Prantha Krishi Kulikarara Sangha donated 40 quintals of rice and three quintals of dhal to the conference as a mark of solidarity.
One of the demands of the conference was a comprehensive law on the IT sector, providing for a logical wage structure and giving workers the right to collective bargaining.
Mr. Pandhe said the working conditions for a significant part of the IT and IT-enabled industries were not as rosy as made out to be. Quoting a study by the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, he said the conditions were often comparable to "19th century prisons" and that of "Roman slaves."
State secretary of CITU V.J.K. Nair said exploitation was particularly severe in IT-enabled service industries and IT education institutes. Wages in some of these places, he said, were "worse than beedi labourers". They were as low as Rs. 500 in a government-aided project such as Mahiti Sindhu, he pointed out.