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Saturday, 29 August 2015

Countrywide General Strike on 2nd Sep, 2015 Stands: Confederation News

Countrywide General Strike on 2nd Sep, 2015 Stands: Confederation News
28th August 2015
After two rounds of discussion between the Group of Ministers and the central trade unions on the 12-point charter of demands of the trade unions held on 26th and 27th August 2015, the GoM headed by Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley sent an appeal through the press release dated 27-08-2015 (Press Information Bureau) after 10 pm urging upon the trade unions to reconsider the call for countrywide general strike on 2nd September 2015 claiming that the Govt has given concrete assurance to consider most of the demands  of the trade unions and that the trade unions agreed to consider the Govt’s proposals. Similar appeal was also made in the meeting of 27th August.  Both the claims of the Govt are totally incorrect.
To put the facts straight, the joint platform of central trade unions have been pursuing with successive governments at the centre with their basic demands since 2009 and observed three rounds of countrywide general strike since 2010, the last being for two days in February 2013. In the two rounds of meeting between the CTUOs and the Group of Minister, nothing transpired in concrete terms except vague statements by the ministers on steps to be taken or being taken on some of the issues, that too not in the right direction.
The Govt’s press release mentioned, inter alia, certain issues in support of their unfounded claim.
  1. The Govt stated about “appropriate legislation for making formula based minimum wages mandatory and applicable” for all. But despite concrete pointers made by the trade unions that such formula should be what has already been unanimously  recommended by the 44th Indian Labour Conference in 2012 and again reiterated by 46th Indian Labour Conference in July 2015 in which the Govt of India is also a party,  the Ministers did not give any concrete commitment on the same. In fact said formulae recommended by 44th ILC in 2012 and reiterated by 46th ILC in July 2015, makes minimum wage around Rs 20000/- at 2014 price level and the Trade Unions demanded only Rs 15,000/. The Ministers’ vague formulation does not ensure even half of that. Is such a position worth consideration?
  2. On contract workers, the Govt assured that they will be guaranteed minimum wages. What is there to assure except spreading deliberate confusion?  Existing laws of the land lawfully ensures payment of minimum wages to contract workers. The Govt’s statement regarding “sector specific minimum wages for the contract workers” also does not make any sense. The trade unions demanded “same wages and other benefits as regular workers in the concerned industry/establishment to be paid to contract workers.” The 43rd Indian Labour Conference held in 2011 recommended the same and 46th ILC unanimously reiterated the same in 2015, in which, again, the present Govt is a party. How could they deny the unanimous recommendation of the highest tripartite forum in the country like Indian Labour Conference?
  3. The steps taken by the Govt on Labour Law amendments, are meticulously designed to throw out more than 70% of the workers on industries and other establishments from the purview and coverage of almost all basic labour laws and also to eliminate almost all components/provisions of rights and protections of the workers. This was supplemented by more aggressive steps already taken by a good number of state governments to already amend the labour laws in the similar lines. On this issue, the Govt stated only that they will hold tripartite consultation before taking such steps.  The trade unions demanded scrapping of such proposals by the central govt and also not to give assents (through President) to the unilateral amendments made by the state governments. Even in all the tripartite consultations held on some of the proposals of the Govt, the trade unions’ unanimous suggestions has been ignored by the Govt in favour of loud supportive applauds of the employers. Once these retrograde changes in labour laws totally dismantling the rights and protection measures for the workers and also throwing more that 70% of the workers out of the purview of labour laws are enacted, thereby rendering the almost entire working people a right-less entity in their workplace, what would ensure even payment of minimum wage and other social security benefits for them, even if those provisions are improved ?  Can any trade union, worth its name accept such a machination designed to impose conditions of virtual slavery on the working people ?
  4. Despite repeated insistence by all the trade unions, the Govt refused to concede to the demand for recognizing  the Scheme workers, viz., Anganwadi, Mid-day meal, ASHA, Para-teachers and others as “worker” with attendant rights of statutory minimum wages and other benefits in gross violation of the unanimous recommendation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference in 2013, reiterated again by the 46th ILC  in 2015. These workers and all the schemes have been put to further crisis threatening their existance owing to drastic cut in budgetary allocations for those schemes. In such a situation, does the assurance of the Govt to “extend social security measures” and “working out ways” for the same carry any meaning?
  5. On bonus issue, the Govt has assured to revise the eligibility and calculation ceiling to Rs 21000/- and Rs 7000/- respectively from existing Rs 10000/- and Rs 3500/-. Trade Unions’ demand has been that since there is no ceiling on profit, all ceilings in the Payment of Bonus Act should be removed altogether. Trade unions also demanded substantial upward revision of the formula for gratuity calculation and remove the ceiling on gratuity payment. The Govt has negated the demands.
  6. On price rise situation, claim of the Govt that it has gone down does not match with ground reality in respect of commodities for daily necessities of the common people. The demands of the trade unions for putting a ban on speculation/forward trading in essential commodities and services along with universalisation of public distribution system throughout the country have been totally ignored.
  7. Trade Unions demanded stoppage of disinvestment in public sector undertakings playing crucial and supportive role in advancement of the national economy. Govt totally ignored the same, rather has been going on aggressively in disinvestment route  in all the major PSUs much to the detriment of the interest of the country’s economy.  On the demands for stoppage of further FDI in defence, railways and financial sector, the stance of the Govt is continuing to be a total denial. Rather, the Govt has been aggressively pursuing deregulation and privatization in strategic sectors like electricity, Port & Docks, Airports etc in a big way.

There are other issues as well, statement of Govt continued to be totally vague and their claim is unfounded. How can anybody, rather any trade union worth its name can consider above stands taken by the Govt on vital demands of the workers as a positive development and move out from the programme of united strike action ?
Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for reconsidering the decisions of the Central Trade Unions for countrywide general strike on 2nd September 2015. Rather, the situation demands that there should be no vascillation in carrying forward the call for general strike on 2nd September 2015 throughout the country in all sectors of the economy with firm determination.
The Central Trade Unions appeal to all working people irrespective of affiliations to make the call for countrywide general strike against the anti-worker, anti-people policies of Govt a massive success.
                                                                                                                        Tapan Sen
General Secretary CITU
Source: Confederation

OROP: Veterans boycott '65 war celebrations

OROP: Veterans boycott '65 war celebrations

NEW DELHI: Upset military veterans on Friday boycotted the launch of the golden jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war, even as their negotiations with the government on implementation of one rank, one pension (OROP) remained deadlocked despite further meetings.

The almost month-long celebrations of the 1965 war began with President Pranab Mukherjee paying tributes at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, on a day when Indian soldiers had captured the strategic Hajipir Pass from Pakistan 50 years ago.

READ ALSO: PMO directly involved in addressing OROP, defence minister Manohar Parrikar says

PM Narendra Modi also paid tributes to the soldiers who fought the 1965 war. "As we mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war, I bow to all brave soldiers who fought for our motherland in the war," the PM tweeted.

But not even two km away from the Union government's seat on Raisina Hill, the veterans at their Jantar Mantar protest site were clearly unhappy with the continuing delay in implementation of the much-promised OROP.

They commemorated the 1965 war's golden jubilee event in their own quiet way, with participation from some who had participated in the conflict like Brigadier (retd) D P Nayar, a Hajipir operation veteran, and Wing Commander (retd) Vinod Nebb, who was awarded the Vir Chakra for bringing down a Pakistani Sabre fighter.

The veterans did meet home minister Rajnath Singh later in the day. But much like the series of such meetings with defence minister Manohar Parrikar, PM's principal secretary Nripendra Misra and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the impasse persisted.

The main bone of contention has become the veterans' demand for "pension equalization" at least once every two years, while the government is ready only for "adjustment" at five-year intervals. Another sticking point is the date of OROP implementation, with the veterans remaining steadfast about it being effective from April 2014, as they were promised earlier. From an earlier position of April 2015, the government has now come down to September 2014.

READ ALSO: Demand for rolling pension change plan holds up OROP

Parrikar, on his part, said the government was working "to fill in the small gaps" and the ex-servicemen should have some patience since the PMO was "directly involved" in resolving the OROP issue.

But this did not go down well with the veterans, who sought an immediate appointment with the PM. "We are rather disheartened. The government is saying it (pension equalization) will be done after five years, which is totally incorrect because it will defeat the very definition of OROP," said Major-General (retd) Satbir Singh, chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.

"We are not asking for more than what was sanctioned. What they are offering us is not acceptable to us. I think the bureaucracy is not in favour of giving us OROP. The intention is first to dilute it and then deny it," he added.

Holding that they had had "full faith" in Modi, the veterans said the PM should meet them to understand the correct position. "All the wrong information fed by the babus would be thrown away and what is right will be accepted and he will give us OROP in totality," said Maj-Gen Singh.

READ ALSO: OROP talks remain deadlocked as veterans reject govt proposal

Grant of full OROP will mean an additional annual cost of at least Rs 8,300 crore as pension for the over 25 lakh veterans in the country. Taking it into account from April last year, it now adds up to at least Rs 16,600 crore, ahead of the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission from 2016 onwards, as reported by TOI earlier.

Times View

The armed forces personnel are among the most patriotic lot in the country. And as people who have the country's interest upper most on their mind, they must realise that their one-rank-one-pension (OROP) demand is simply not feasible for any government to meet without seriously messing up its finances not just for the present but for all time to come. If the government accepts the demand that the pensions of all ex-servicemen will increase each time anybody of the same rank retires, the sheer scale of the pay-out will run into tens of thousands of crores a year at present and keep escalating with each passing day. That is clearly not a sustainable proposition. Those demanding such an arrangement are being irresponsible. Both the UPA and NDA must also bear the blame for having played competitive populism in promising they would accept the demand. But ultimately this is not just about ex-servicemen, governments or parties. It is the taxpayer whose money will be recklessly splurged if the demand is accepted, and the country's future will be harmed. We are sure that that is the last thing our brave and patriotic soldiers want.

Source: http://mlife.mtsindia.in/

Admissibility of Daily Allowance to Staff Car Drivers: Railway Board Order

Admissibility of Daily Allowance to Staff Car Drivers: Railway Board Order

No. F(E)I/2009/AL-28/21
New Delhi, Dated 25 08.2015
The General Managers,
All Indian Railways/Production Units,
(As per Mailing List)
Sub: Admissibility of Daily Allowance to Staff Car Drivers.
It has been decided by the Board, after discussions with both the Federations, to modify the provisions regarding admissibility of Daily Allowance to Staff Car Drivers contained-in para 2 of Board’s letter No. F(E)I/2006/AL-28/15 dt. 12.03.2008. Accordingly, para 2 of the said letter, is partially modified to read as under:
    “2. As per the provisions contained in Supplementary Rule 186 and Government of India’s order (l) there under, read with Note 8 under Rule 26 of Staff Car Rules, Staff Car Drivers who perform a ‘local journey’ or journey on touring on the official vehicle in his charge, may draw travelling allowance under the ordinary rules as admissible to other Railway employees even if the journeys does not involve the absence of at least one night from his Headquarters. When they perform local journeys for distance exceeding 8 Kms. beyond prescribed hours of duty and such journeys involve absence of a night from head quarters, they are entitled to draw D.A. under ordinary rules admissible to other employees, for the period beyond duty hours, in addition to OTA. In case the journey does not/involve their absence of one night from their headquarters, they are entitled to draw D.A. for the period beyond duty hours subject to the condition that DA shall be payable for the period with reference to which D.A. has been drawn. In such cases, they have the option to draw either OTA or DA on any day on which such journeys have been undertaken.”
2. This would be applicable to all Drivers irrespective of the type of vehicle they drive.

3. These orders will take effect from the date of issue. Past cases, will, however, continue to be dealt with under provisions of letter No. F(E)l/2006/AL-28/15 dt. 12.03.08.

4. Hindi version is enclosed.

5 . Receipt of the letter may be acknowledged.
(Somali Chaturvedi)
Dy. Director Finance (Estt)
Railway Board.
Source: NFIR

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