For the first time since the UPA took over in May 2004, the Union Labour and Employment Ministry has called for a meeting with all central trade unions to discuss labour law violations.
The meeting is to be held on October 24. Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Chandra Sekhar Sahu, said the meeting is a follow-up to the one a trade union delegation had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in August, also a first such interaction.
``In the last session of Parliament a ‘calling attention motion’ on labour law violations was discussed. During the discussion, many examples of reported violations were given. At the end of it, the Ministry assured the House that a meeting would be called to take the discussions forward,’’ Sahu said. It had been reported that employers were violating provisions of many labour-related laws including the Minimum Wages Act, the Factories Act and the Industrial Disputes Act.
All major trade unions including the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) are expected to the attend the meeting.
Gurudas Dasgupta, CPI leader and AITUC president, said labour laws are being broken with impunity. ``The liberalisation of the economy is leading to the liberalisation of labour laws. It is accentuating wage cuts and increasing workload. Unemployment is gallopping,’’ Dasgupta said, adding that trade unions are ready with enough information about labour law violations.
The October 24 meeting would also be a precursor to a state labour ministers’ conference. ``Labour is a concurrent subject. Most of the laws are implemented by the states. So, in the October 24 meeting, we hope to find out the problems as well as how to solve them,’’ Sahu said. He added that since it’s the first meeting of its kind where senior bureaucrats would also be present, the ministry hoped to learn a lot from it.
But meeting or no, the trade unions are readying for a march to Parliament to protest against labour law violations on November 23. The march would be followed up by all-India general strike on December 14. Clearly, the Labour Ministry has to fast assuage the grievances of the trade unions to make them pull back from a position of confrontation.