Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has told the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) that labour reforms are “not essential” for industrial growth and changes in these laws would be made only after taking unions on board. “Jaitley conveyed to a delegation of BMS on the eve of the government completing two years in power (yesterday) that government has realised that labour reforms are not essential for industrial growth in the country,”.
The statement assumes significance in view of the calls for extensive labour reforms to improve the ease of doing business by doing away with the archaic laws. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal that “labour reforms should not just mean (being) in the interest of industry” and they should also be in the interest of the labourer.
The BMS delegation met Jaitley and other members of the ministerial panel on labour issues. Incidentally, the panel had not met the trade union after the September 2 strike last year to deliberate on their 12-point charter of demands.
When contacted, BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said that they were meeting the Group of Ministers headed by Jaitley for a follow-up of the 12-point charter of demands on labour issues raised by unions last year.
“He made the comment during a discussion on the labour law reforms, which is an issue in the charter of demands.” Besides Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh and Labour Secretary Shankar Agarwal were also present.
The trade union delegation included Upadhyay, former president Saji Narayanan C K, Zonal Organising Secretary Pawan Kumar and Deputy Finance Secretary Jagdish Joshi, the statement said.
“Jaitley said government will pursue any amendment on labour laws only after bringing unanimity among trade unions, employers’ organisations and states. He also agreed that minimum wage has to be given a serious thought, considering the differences in consumer price in major cities and towns.”
According to BMS, Jaitley has asked the labour minister to prepare a formula to work out the minimum wage and extend social security to scheme workers.The labour minister has also been asked to look into the issue of contract workers to make their service condition on a par with regular workmen.
“The finance minister said the government will instruct all states and central departments, to strictly implement the decision on enhancement of ceiling of bonus,” it said. BMS insisted the government have a relook at the economic policies to ensure better job creation and to strengthen state-owned companies, which are the best model of decent wages, to make economy run. The Group of Ministers also assured the BMS delegation that assurances given on August 27, 2015, on the 12-point charter of demands of the joint trade unions would be implemented with priority in the coming weeks.