New Delhi: Differences between government and trade unions over labour reforms proposals persisted on Sunday with unions threatening to go ahead with their nation-wide strike on September 2 in support of their demands after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to make any head way.
The assertion by the unions came on the eve of the 46th Indian Labour Conference to be addressed by Modi tomorrow where government, trade unions and industry would come face to face to discuss various issues including government's labour reforms.
The Prime Minister, during a tea meeting with the central trade union leaders, heard their views on various economic policies and labour related laws but gave no assurance to them on issues raised by unions.
"The Prime Minister heard the views of the trade union leaders on various issues of interest to workers, including in areas related to economic policy, and related laws," an official statement said.
Emerging out of the meeting, trade union leaders said that Prime Minister had not given any assurance and hence they would go ahead with their September 2 nation-wide strike in support of their 12-point charter of demands.
Earlier, the union leaders held extensive discussions on labour issues with the inter-ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The first meeting of the high-powered witnessed divergent views on contentious issues of contract labour and minimum wages, though there were unanimity over providing more benefits and social security cover to workers.
The other points of convergence relate to issues like recognition of trade unions and amendment to the Bonus Act.
From the government side, the meeting was attended by Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh.
"There is consensus on the issues of recognition of trade
unions, (the) Bonus Act and matters related to social security of workers. There is gap (differences) on issues related to contract labour and minimum wages. Discussions are in progress on these issues," Dattatreya told reporters.
Trade union leaders, however, stressed that there was no consensus and they would go ahead with the planned nation-wide strike on September 2 to press for their demands.
After an hour-long meeting with the Prime Minister, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta said, "They listened to us. They did not tell us anything. We made it very clear that government is moving in a unilateral way...There is no assurance or anything from them. Therefore our stand for strike on September 2 stands. All trade unions are unanimous on this and will remain united."
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.
Their demands also include stoppage of disinvestment, equal benefits for contract workers, removal of ceiling for bonus, provident fund and compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days and and immediate ratification of all ILO Conventions.