NOTE SUBMITTED BY TRADE UNIONS ON VIEW POINT ON ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR FRAMING BUDGET FOR THE YEAR 2017-18
The Hon’ble Minister of Finance
Government of India
New Delhi, 110 001
Sub: Trade unions view point on issues to be considered for framing budget for the year 2017-18
At the beginning, once again, we request that instead of a ritualistic exercise, to make the meeting meaningful, the proposals put forward by the trade unions in the joint memorandum should find place in the budget proposals.
Instead of going for any new issues, we reiterate the 12 point demands of the working people submitted earlier to the government. Please recall, your good-self, being the Chairman of the GoM, had inconclusive discussions with all the central trade unions in August 2015 and All India General Strike on 2nd September, 2015 could not be avoided. Unfortunately the same have not been resumed in spite of requests made by the Central Trade Unions. Under such compulsion trade unions had to resort to All India General Strike on 2nd September, 2016.
We express our deep concern over the difficulties being faced by the common people especially the daily wage earners due to demonetization of Rs.500/- and Rs.1000/-currency notes and urge the Govt. to take urgent steps to ameliorate their difficulties.
Without depending too much on foreign investment for growth and development of the national economy, the Government should concentrate on raising internal resources by taxing the rich who have financial capacity to pay. Budget allocation on social sector and basic services like health, education and so on must be sufficiently increased, let alone any reduction. The Govt must take firm measures to contain deliberate tax-default by the big business and corporate lobby leading to huge accumulation of unpaid direct tax due, which is increasing every successive year.
The issues with direct bearing on the economic policies of the Govt. and budget exercise are put hereunder:
1. Minimum Wage: Minimum Wage linked to Consumer Price Index must be guaranteed to all workers, taking into consideration the recommendations of the 15th Indian Labour Conference and further enriched by the Apex Court by an add-on of 25%. The entire formulation was again unanimously reiterated by 43rd Indian Labour Conference. Based on the same, the 7th CPC has worked out the minimum wage of Rs.18000/- per month. Therefore, the minimum wage should not be less than Rs.18000/- per month. Need-based minimum wage is to be considered as essential part of social security. Unfortunately ignoring the well established norms, the Govt. has proposed minimum wage of Rs.9,100/- p.m. for workers of C-Class Cities, that too only for the workers in the central sphere, leaving the majority rest without any increase. The trade unions have not accepted the same.
2. Price Rise: Take effective measures to arrest the spiraling price rise especially of food and essential items of daily use. Ban speculative forward trading in essential commodities, check on hoarding and universalise and strengthen Public Distribution System.
3. Public Sector: PSUs should be strengthened and expanded under PSU frame work fully. Disinvestment of shares of profit making PSUs should be stopped. Budgetary support should be provided for revival of potentially viable sick PSUs. Unfortunately, the Govt. has resorted to strategic selling of even profit making PSUs and outright closure of so called sick units. The CTUs are also opposed to the proposed Transport Safety Bill as it paves a way for privatization of state owned public transport system
4. Domestic Industries: Relentless and increasing flow of import of industrial commodities including capital goods must be contained and regulated to prevent dumping and also to protect and promote domestic industries and prevent loss of employment.
5. FDI: FDI should not be allowed in crucial sectors like Defence Production, Railways, Financial Sector, Retail Trade and other strategic sectors. The Govt. on the other hand, has allowed 100% FDI in these sectors including Pharmaceuticals.
6. Employment Generation: Over the past two years, the employment generation has been the least. We reiterate massive public investment be made in infrastructure and social sectors to generate more employment in order to arrest mounting unemployment. All vacancies of sanctioned posts in Govt departments, PSUs and autonomous institutions should be filled up through fresh recruitment. Ban on creation of new posts should be lifted; practice of surrendering / abolition of posts should be done away with.
7. MGNREGA: The scope of MGNREGA be extended to agriculture operations and urban areas as well and employment for minimum period of 200 days with guaranteed statutory wage be provided, as unanimously recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference. The drastic cut already inflicted on the MNREGA allocation should be made good and enhanced.
8.(a) SCHEME WORKERS: The massive workforce engaged in ICDS, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Shiksha Mitra, the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) and other schemes be regularized. No to privatization of centrally funded schemes. Budget allocation should not be drastically cut as done in last year; it should be substantially increased. Universalisation of ICDS be done as per Supreme Court directions by making adequate budgetary allocations. The scheme workers should at least be given status of workers with attendant benefits as already recommended by the 45th Session of ILC till such time they are regularized.
(b) DOMESTIC WORKERS: Domestic work continues to be uncertain and invisible. To create a support system for domestic workers, a central law requires to be enacted.
9. Unorganised Workers Social Security: Steps be taken for removal of all restrictive provisions based on poverty line in respect of eligibility coverage of the schemes under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 and allocation of adequate resources for the National Fund for Unorganised Workers to provide for Social Security to all unorganized workers including the contract/casual and migrant workers
The States which have not framed rules under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act be asked to frame such rules and allocate funds for developing the Street Vending as livelihood models.
The cess management of construction workers in the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board be made the responsibility of Ministry of Finance to ensure its proper collection and utilization.
10. (a) Income Tax exemption:- ceiling for the salaried persons and pensioners should be raised to Rs.5 lakh per annum. All perks and fringe benefits like housing, medical and educational facilities and running allowances in Railways should be exempted from the income tax net in totality.
(b) Gratuity: The ceiling of amount of Gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act be raised to Rs.20 lacs w.e.f. 1.1.2016 as done in the case of Central Govt. employees.
11.(a) Employees Provident Fund: Threshold limit of 20 employees in EPF Scheme be brought down to 10. Govt. and Employers contribution be increased to allow sustainability of Employees Pension Scheme and for provision of minimum pension of Rs.3000/- p.m. Proposal for introducing option in PF and ESI made in 2015-16 budget be dropped. Notification issued for utilization of money in “inoperative” EPF accounts for Senior Citizen Welfare Fund be withdrawn; decision to invest EPF fund in stock/equity market be scrapped.
(b) Pension: Pension to All-All workers be paid pension and the same be construed as deferred wage.
12. New Pension Scheme: New Pension Scheme be withdrawn and newly recruited employees of central and state Govts on or after 1.1.2004 be covered under Old Pension Scheme.
13. Labour Law Reforms: The process of labour law reforms being pursued by the Govt. to provide for unhindered “hire and fire” and for pushing the majority of workers outside the purview and protection of most of the labour laws--all for ensuring so called ease of doing business be stopped. No labour law amendment be undertaken without the consent of trade unions and workers who are the main stake holders and also the most affected.
14. 7th Central Pay Commission: The Central Govt. employees demand for raising of minimum wage and consequent revision of implementation factor which is said to be under consideration of a Committee be resolved at the earliest.
15. Avoid Contractual Workers: Contract/Casual workers should not be deployed on jobs of perennial nature. Till regularization these workers should be paid the same wages and benefits as paid to regular workers doing the same and similar type of work as has been reiterated by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India recently.
16. Issues of Railways: There being no separate Railway Budget this time, the Annual Budget must take care of this crucial public and goods transport service in the country to be made more effective, accessible and affordable to all people through increased budgetary allocation for expeditious completion of pending expansion and track renewal projects; urgent long pending demands of the Railway employees like enhancement of ceiling in respect of running allowance for tax-exemption, housing scheme etc should be considered. No to privatization and 100% FDI in Railways.
To re-emphasize our serious concern:
We oppose the desperate anti-worker measures of changing labour laws by the central as well as some state Govts. The Govt. should take steps for initiating discussion and resolving the 12 point charter of demands.
We repeat with sorrow that none of the suggestions made by us collectively in the last pre-budget meetings have got any positive reflection in the previous budgets. Rather drastic cut to the tune of Rs.4.40 lakh crores was made in the allocation of funds for social sector schemes in the last budget. This drastic cut needs to be restored and covered up.
We would therefore request that at least this time due and proper consideration is given to the points raised above while framing budget for 2016-17.
INTUC AITUC HMS CITU AIUTUC
TUCC SEWA AICCTU UTUC LPF