Trade unions seek meeting with govt

BL New Delhi Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 19, 2021

Amarjeet Kaur, AITUC’s general secretary | Photo Credit: HANDOUT_E_MAIL

‘So-called exercise’ of pre-budget consultation was a farce and mockery on the finance ministry’s part, says AITUC

The Central Trade Unions (CTUs) have alleged that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman let them down by not participating in a pre-budget discussion with them on Saturday. They urged her to hold another physical meeting on the issues of workers that have to be included in the budget.

RSS-supported trade union BMS said Sitharaman did not attend the meeting where the Minister of State and other officials of the Finance Ministry were present.

“This is the first occasion when such a meeting is being held without the FM. It seems the government gives no importance to CTUs. We demand a redressal by holding an immediate physical meeting,” said BMS general secretary Binoy Kumar Sinha.

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Left-leaning union AITUC’s general secretary Amarjeet Kaur said the “so-called exercise” of pre-budget consultation was a farce and mockery on the ministry’s part. “ The government allotted three minutes on such an important subject and then the chronology of speakers was not respected, and resulted in disconnection in case of some representatives, including the speaker from AITUC. This shows contempt of this government towards the working class,” she said.

She alleged that the Centre is in a hurry to subvert the public sector in favour of Indian and foreign corporates, and to scuttle and stifle the voices of trade unions who represent several millions of workers.

‘Increase EPS pension’

The BMS said in its representation that the Employees’ Provident Fund pension scheme is becoming a big issue in the organised sector involving 65 lakhs beneficiaries. “During the Covid days also those who have worked life-long got only a paltry amount of minimum pension of ₹1,000. This is less than destitute pension. Hence the EPS pension should be raised to ₹5,000,” Sinha said in his letter to Sitharaman.

He said the Ayushman Bharat medical scheme should be extended all EPS pensioners. He also urged the Centre to exclude senior citizens from the purview of Income Tax and demanded that interest rate should be protected on fixed deposits to ensure smooth income in old age.

The BMS also demanded that entire contract/outsourced/off-role/casual workers and fixed term employees who completed at least five years should be regularised. “It needs to be done in a phased manner,” Sinha said and asked the Centre to convene a larger meeting of the CTUs on economic policies of the Government. He said it was proposed in 2015 that such a meeting will be convened but nothing happened in the last six years.

Published on December 19, 2021
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