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PM for boosting manufacturing sector

PM concedes current bonus ceiling was outdated and assured trade unions that Cabinet would take up the matter.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2006 23:04 IST

Taking note of their longstanding demand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday night announced Centre's decision to release Rs 350 crore before Dusshera for payment of wage arrears to workers of public sector undertakings.

In his first meeting with labour representatives at his official Race Course Road residence, Singh also announced setting of a Price Index Review Committee to suggest changes to it, Prime Minister's Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru told reporters.

This followed perennial complaints that the price index did not reflect price rise and hence not used for calculation of wage revision.

The Prime Minister, during his free and frank exchange of views with the trade union leaders, conceded that the current bonus ceiling was outdated and assured them that the Union Cabinet would take up the matter.

Baru said the Prime Minister would be writing to Chief Ministers of all states to ensure effective implementation of labour laws.

A Working Group of representatives of government, employees and all stakeholders would be set up to go into the issue of social security, working condition of labourers and effective implementation of labour laws, Baru said.

Telling labour representatives that an 'important point' in India's economic history has come, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said there was need to boost the manufacturing sector and enlarge the 'pie' so that everyone got a larger share.

In the first meeting of its kind since the UPA government assumed office, Singh said the growth potential of the economy was huge.

"The opportunities are there. We need to sit back and reflect how we can boost our manufacturing sector, create more jobs, have better incomes for our workers and have better working conditions for them," he said.

"We need to reflect on how we can rapidly enlarge the pie we have so that all of us can get a larger share of it," he stressed.

Describing his government as a 'caring' one, Singh said it was committed to the welfare of the working class, which was the backbone of the industrial sector.

The Common Minimum Programme, on which the policies of the government were based, committed it to fully protect the interests of workers and their families and to the welfare of the public sector, he said.

The trade unions raised concerns over serious gaps in the implementation of labour laws, violation of labour laws, rise in contract labour, increase in working hours and delay in introduction a bill for agricultural workers, Baru said.

They also criticised the functioning of the Labour Ministry and demanded a law for employees' participation in management.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Labour Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Heavy Industries Minister Santhosh Mohan Dev attended the meeting.

The trade union side was represented by Gurudas Das Gupta (AITUC), MK Pandhe and Varadarajan (CITU), Abani Roy (UTUC), G Sanjeeva Reddy (INTUC), and UM Purohit (BMS).