INTUC against moving `labour' to States list

VISAKHAPATNAM OCT. 10. The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has expressed its strong opposition to any decision by the Centre to move the subject of `labour' from the Concurrent to the States List.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, the INTUC president, G. Sanjeeva Reddy, claimed that the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, was pressuring the Centre to bring about a Constitutional amendement to move the subject of labour to the States List for giving greater freedom and flexibility to the State Governments to effect changes in labour laws.

Mr. Reddy said the State Governments were under "the illusion'' that diluting the laws safeguarding the interests and rights of the working class would pave the way for greater investment. He wanted to know if there was any country in the world which had progressed economically on the strength of its "anti-labour'' policies.

If the State Governments were vested with the independence to make exclusive labour policies, there would be no uniformity in laws and this would undermine the objectives of the economic reforms in the country, he felt.

Mr. Reddy lamented the competition among States to effect "anti-labour policies'' in the hope of outsmarting each other in attracting investments.

Pointing out that India was a signatory to various international agreements, including the International Labour Organisation, for guaranteeing decent work and minimum wages to its people, Mr. Reddy said: "If minimum wages are not guaranteed, the rich would get richer and the disparity in society would grow.''

He felt that State Governments could go in for `minor modifications' in labour laws through consensus but not make sweeping changes.

On the recent Supreme Court verdict on the right to strike, he saw an `imbalance' in it in that the working class was being deprived of its right to strike on the failure of collective bargaining, but managements were not restrained from exercising their right to declare lock-outs or close units.

Trade unions would demand their right to strike during the forthcoming three-day Indian Labour Conference, scheduled to be held in New Delhi from October 16, the INTUC leader said.

Replying to a question, Mr. Reddy said that he would not be in agreement with the justification for the strike by State Government employees in Tamil Nadu, but he opposed the `imperious manner' in which the Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, handled the issue.

The INTUC advocated greater unity among trade unions and was pursuing the proposal for a merger with Hind Mazdoor Sabha on common accepted principles, he said but "unfortunately, political interests tend to override such unification moves among unions.''

TUs to discuss strike ban: Meanwhile, the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) called for a meeting of all Central trade unions at its office in New Delhi on October 15 to prepare an action plan on the Supreme Court ruling banning the strike and the other problems facing the labour, its all-India general secretary, Gurudas Dasgupta, said here on Friday.

The CITU, HMS, BMS and other trade unions had been invited for the meeting, to be held a day before the Indian Labour Conference, Mr. Dasgupta announced at a separate press conference here.

"AITUC is opposing the Supreme Court ruling. We demanded the Central Government respond on it (the court ruling on the right to strike). Several political parties are also opposing,'' Mr. Dasgupta said.

The Government should understand that workers enjoyed a key role in the economic development and overall growth of the country and hence it had the responsibility to protect the workers' right to strike. He wanted the Central Govenrment to introduce a special bill during the next session of Parliament or file a revision petition in the Supreme Court on the issue of strike.

The Indian Labour Conference would be inaugurated by the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee.

The AITUC leader condemned the People's War attempt on the life of Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu. He felt that unemployment was the cause of growth in terrorism.

The president of the State council of AITUC, V.V. Rama Rao, the general secretary of the AITUC-affiliated trade union in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, D. Adinarayana, and the general secretary of the Visakhapatnam Harbour and Port Workers Union, B.Ch. Masen, participated.