Govt. not to oblige trade unions

NEW DELHI, MAY 20. The Government seems to be in no mood to oblige trade unions by deferring the proposed legislation to amend the Industrial Disputes Act and the Indian Labour Contract Act.

The Prime Minister's Office today categorically denied that the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, had given any assurance to unions on this matter as claimed by them at the Indian Labour Conference on May 18.

Mr. Satyanarain Jatiya, Labour Minister, had earlier stated that the Government would bring forward legislation to amend the two Acts during the coming monsoon session of Parliament. Trade unions have been strongly opposing the move describing it as anti-labour. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh has called for action, including a strike, to protest the changes which would virtually bring in a hire and fire policy in all factories and establishments employing less than 1,000 workers.

During the Indian Labour Conference, some trade union leaders claimed they have been able to get a concrete assurance from the Prime Minister that the proposed changes would be deferred till the National Labour Commission submitted its report expected by the year-end.

`Working class ignored'

Our Legal Correspondent reports:

The trade unions have expressed disappointment over the outcome of the Labour Conference. In a statement issued after a meeting here today, the leaders of the AITUC, INTUC, BMS, CITU, HMS, UTUC and the UTUC (LB) said the Prime Minister, in his speech at the ILC, had ignored the issues raised by the workers' representatives and had responded and accepted only the points raised by the employers' group.

The unions expressed shock at the statement of the Prime Minister reiterating the employers' claim that unemployment and poverty had gone down in the liberalised policy regime.

The meeting, while reiterating its opposition to the economic policies of the Government, expressed the urgent need for a agitation by the working class against these policies and in particular against thoughtless privatisation of profit-making and potentially viable PSUs, including defence sector industries.The central trade unions would meet again on May 24 to decide further course of action.