Special Correspondent

Threatens to join other unions for launching agitations

  • "Appoint adequate number of officers"
  • Labour welfare boards "inactive"
  • About 7,300 labour disputes pending

    CHENNAI: The State unit of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) will not hesitate to join hands with other unions to launch coordinated agitations, including a general strike, to highlight the demands for reactivating the Labour department, constituting tripartite committees, and making labour welfare boards functional, its general secretary A.Soundararajan said here on Tuesday.

    Mr. Soundararajan, who led a CITU rally of workers from the Munroe statue to the State Guest House, told reporters that the most important demand of the union related to appointment of adequate number of officers and employees to the Labour department that was virtually "defunct" for the last seven years.

    Though the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came out with an election promise that all the vacancies in the department would be filled, it was not fully implemented. Having given eight months time, the CITU decided to hold rallies at all the district headquarters calling for urgent measures to attend to the long-pending grievances of workers, he said.

    A CITU delegation called on Labour Minister T.M.Anbarasan at the Secretariat and handed over a memorandum. About 7,300 labour disputes were pending with the department and the process of issuing Government Orders on conciliation failure reports and referring the disputes to courts for redressal had been delayed owing to lack of poor staff strength, he said. Minimum wages for workers belonging to 23 trades had not been revised for long, Mr. Soundararajan said.

    According to him, the Inspectorate of Factories, which had to check violations of factory rules, also remained dormant.

    Describing the tripartite committees as "eyes and ears" of the working class, he said the panels had not been constituted during the previous All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Government. Now the DMK Government should take immediate steps to reconstitute them.

    Mr. Soundararajan expressed concern at the delay in initiating steps to activate labour welfare boards formed by the Government for unorganised sector workers. There had been inordinate delay not only in enrolment of members under these boards but also in disbursement of benefits to applicants.

    "In the prevailing situation, the trade unions are reluctant to seek the intervention of the Labour department in industrial disputes, fearing that such moves could become counterproductive," Mr. Soundararajan said.

    Model employer

    The State Government should be a "model employer," he said, adding that labour laws and rules had not been adopted in the public sector organisations, such as the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation.

    Systems such as `honorarium' and `consolidated pay' should be scrapped immediately. Mr. Soundararajan sought government support for employees in the Information Technology sector and other modern industrial units to start unions.