Trade Unions on Monday pressed the demand for restoration of Old Pension Scheme (OPS) for government employees during pre-Budget consultations with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama.

These unions also placed demands for setting up 8th pay commission, increase in tax rebate for salaried class and fill vacancies. Representatives from 12 trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC and UTUC attended the meeting. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) submitted a memorandum with its demand separately.

“The ceiling limit for the income tax rebate for the salaried class on their salary and gratuity must be substantially raised. Government-sponsored social security fund for the unorganised workers and agricultural workers has to be set up to provide them with defined universal social security schemes including minimum pension of ₹9,000 per month and other medical, educational benefits,” the CTUs said in their memorandum.

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Besides, they have sought that all the existing vacancies in the central government departments and PSUs must be filled immediately and the practice of contract and outsourcing should be stopped.

Tax burden

They further said resource mobilisation has to be done by increasing the corporate tax, wealth tax and introducing inheritance tax instead of burdening common masses with the GST on essential food items and medicine.

“Over the decades, corporate tax rates have been slashed unjustly and at the same time increasing indirect tax burden on common people resulted in an utterly regressive tax structure. That must be corrected in the interests of fairness, equity and propriety. Even one per cent inheritance tax on the super- rich with the ceiling can fetch huge amount to the budget receipts,” it said.

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Some of its demands are the scope of MGNREGA should be broadened with the provision for a guaranteed 200 days of work for each family. Besides, agriculture and allied sectors works should be linked to MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).

It also demanded providing health benefits to all persons above 60 years of age. It can be made contributory with a token amount of ₹100 per month and coverage of ₹5 lakh annually. Moreover, Ayushman Bharat Scheme criteria should be extended from ₹1.20 lakh to ₹3 lakh, it said.