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All economic stimuli packages should be required to increase employment in budget
January, 13th 2011

Trade Union representatives have asked the finance minister that all economic stimuli packages in the forthcoming budget should be required to increase employment and it should be made conditional that jobs are not slashed due to such packages.

Representatives of the central trade unions protested that year after year their demands are ritually heard, but are given little weightage in the budget. Senior trade union leaders stayed away from the meeting this year because it has become just a ritual, said All India Trade Union Congress General Secretary Gurudas Dasgupta. But we decided not to boycott it, and our comrades met the finance minister, he added.

In a memorandum to the finance minister, the trade unions raised a number of demands pertaining to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Scheme, inflation, unemployment, taxation, sick public sector units, etc.

There is jobless recovery and unequal growth. Unorganised workers are doubly affected by the price rise because they do not have any inflation-linked component to their wages. There should be a national minimum wage and NREGS workers should be brought under it. We brought these issues to the urgent attention of the finance minister, AITUC deputy general secretary H Mahadevan said.

Representatives of trade unions such as Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Centre of Indian Trade Unions and Hind Mazdoor Sabha, among others, attended the meeting. The group sought the ministers intervention into the non-payment of wages by sick public sector units. We have asked that sick PSUs be sent not to mortuaries, but to nursing homes, Mahadevan said.

The trade unions supported the recent National Advisory Council recommendation that the MNREGS scheme should be brought under the minimum wages regime. The group demanded that the scheme should be extended to urban areas and should be extended to guarantee a minimum of 200 days of employment.

This economic policy regime has only created a few highlands of prosperity, while plunging the people at large into the quagmire of impoverishment and unmitigated sufferings, the memorandum said.

The memorandum demanded a ban on futures trading in commodities and a universal public distribution system. A taxation system that imposes higher taxes on the rich and lower indirect taxes should be put in place. The National Fund for Unorganised Workers should be enhanced and contract labourers and migrant workers should be brought under it.

Entry of foreign companies and big corporates into the retail trade should be prohibited, the memorandum demands.
The group also sought a post-budget meeting with the finance minister to review the schemes that are implemented.

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