The Centre announced on Tuesday two years’ bonus for its employees and hiked minimum wages of unskilled workers by more than Rs 100, aiming to outmanoeuvre trade unions ahead of a general strike on September 2.
However, Left and Congress-affiliated workers’ unions dismissed the largesse and said they will go ahead with their day-long stir that could impact sectors like banking, telecom and railways.
“This is a mere eyewash. We demanded minimum wage for every worker at Rs 18,000 per month. The labour minister has misled people,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, the chief of the CPI-affiliated AITUC.
The government will fork out an additional Rs 3,800 crore in paying the bonus that will benefit 33 lakh-odd central employees ahead of the festive season.
“In the last one-and-a-half year, the inter-ministerial committee held meetings with the central trade unions. The unions placed various demands. Some were labour-related and some related to economic policy issues. The government has taken decisions on the basis of their recommendations,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said.
Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the government has accepted seven out of the eights demands of the trade unions. “There is no justification for a strike,” he told HT.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, a workers’ union affiliated to the ruling BJP, however, is staying away from the strike called to protest the Narendra Modi government reforms that will see several state-run banks merged with the State Bank of India, the country’s biggest lender.
“The (banks’) merger is not the subject of trade unions,” Jaitley said, hoping that they will act “responsibly”.
Employees will get bonus for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16 while minimum wages for non-agricultural workers have been revised from Rs 246 to Rs 350 per day, he added.
The finance minister also assured that necessary steps will be taken to resolve pending cases on bonus payments in courts.
Although the minimum wages is applicable for works commissioned by the Centre and its organisations, the state governments will come under pressure to hike their minimum wages.