Saying that a consensus was the only way to resolve “old complex issues”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to trade unions on Monday to enlist their support for economic growth to create new jobs.
The Prime Minister said, in Indian culture, the worker is traditionally regarded as “Vishwakarma”. The unions are seeking for contract labour the same wages and service conditions that apply to regular employees but the government is reluctant to concede the demand.
Dasgupta said trade unions would oppose disinvestment and the government’s move to change labour laws as it would hurt the interest of workers.
He said laws alone can also not bring about the desired objective, and only the combined efforts of labour unions, industrialists and government would lead to results which were in the interest of the nation’s economy. “We felt good when he briefed us in front of the prime minister”, said Brijesh Upadhyay, general secretary of the BMS, which is affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Prime Minister also regretted that the number of apprentices in the country was very low and asked the industry to provide more opportunities to them with a view to increase their numbers from three lakh to at least 20 lakh.
“It is my effort to simplify the laws so that even the poorest are able to understand their rights and avail them”, Modi said. As part of the concept of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”, the Prime Minister said obsolete and unnecessary laws were being weeded out, he said.
The meeting followed extensive consultations that these leaders had with an inter-ministerial team headed by the finance minister Arun Jaitley, earlier in the day.
The 12-point charter of demand includes measures to contain price-rise, ban on speculative trade in commodity market, reducing unemployment, strict enforcement of labour laws, universal social security cover, hiking minimum wages to Rs 15,000 per month and assured pension of Rs 3,000 per month.
Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Bandaru Dattatreya were among those present on the occasion. The overwhelming complaint at the meeting was that trade unions had not been heard since 2009.
Rai said the government has not implemented the recommendations of the previous ILCs, and accused it of trying to reform labour laws in order to benefit employers.