Posted 20th May 2013


PM’s address 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference

PM’s address at 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference on 117th May 2013

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address at the 45th session of the Indian Labour Conference in New Delhi today:

“Let me begin by emphasizing that this is a very important conference that deliberates issues of critical importance to our workers and industry, and therefore to our economy and society at large. I feel happy that as Prime Minister I have participated in all Sessions of the Indian Labour Conference that have taken place since 2005, except the one in 2009 which I could not attend due to ill-health.

As you begin proceedings in this 45th Session of the Conference, I compliment you on your past achievements and extend my best wishes for your efforts in the future. It is also my hope that this Session will build further upon the rich legacy of the earlier Sessions. Before I proceed further, let me also state that our Government has paid very serious attention to the issues that Trade Unions have raised from time to time.

The recent two-day strike by Trade Unions focused on a number of issues relating to the welfare not only of the working-classes but also the people at large. These include demands on which there can be no disagreement. For example, demands for concrete measures for containing inflation, for generation of employment opportunities, for strict implementation of labour laws, are unexceptionable. There can however be differences on the best ways of fulfilling these demands and we are willing to engage constructively with the Trade Unions in this regard. Some other demands raised by the Trade Unions are already under an advanced stage of consideration by the Government. These include issues like universal social security cover for workers in both the organized and unorganized sectors and creation of a National Social Security Fund, fixing a National Floor Level Minimum Wage and provision of minimum pension of Rs. 1000 per month under the Employees’ Pension Scheme.

In fact, the Cabinet has already approved amendments to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 to provide for a statutory National Floor Level Minimum Wage. The third set of demands relates to issues on which further dialogue with Trade Union leaders appears necessary, including tripartite discussions. We have set up a Group of Ministers under the Finance Minister to go into the whole gamut of demands raised by the Trade Unions and I am confident that soon you will see some forward movement on these demands. I believe that many of the demands of the Trade Unions reflect the concern that our growth and progress should be inclusive and should particularly benefit the under-privileged sections of our society. This is a concern that has been very dear to our Government. We believe that providing our people with productive employment opportunities is the best way of achieving this objective.

According to some available data, we created 20 million additional job opportunities during the period 2004-05 and 2009-10. The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% during the same period. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increases in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs.

Employment in the organized sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011.
It is heartening to note that women employed in the organized sector have also registered a growth of about 19% during the same period.

Our Government has also made serious efforts in implementing various employment generation programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Rural Livelihood Mission, Swarnajayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojna and Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme. There has been an increase in allocations of these schemes over the years which have provided employment opportunities to a large number of men and women, particularly persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. MGNREGA has been particularly helpful in reducing inter-State migration of labour, eliminating bonded labour and raising the purchasing power of the rural households.

Women participation under the scheme has been more than 48%. It is also heartening to note that rural women are increasingly going for self-employment opportunities in ever increasing numbers. Out of a total of 44.32 lakh Self-Help Groups in our country, 30.21 lakh are exclusively for women which accounts for more than 68%. We propose to continue this effort in future as well. Clearly, skill development is crucial to our efforts for providing decent employment opportunities to our large and growing young population.

A skilled workforce is also a pre-requisite for the achievement of our objective of rapid and inclusive growth. Therefore, we have laid special emphasis on skill development. Our aim is to skill 5 crore people by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan. This will not only help in generating good quality employment but will also provide Industry with the skilled workforce they need to expand and modernize their operations. During the last five years, the number of Industrial Training

Institutes (ITIs) in the country has doubled from about 5000 to about 10000. About 1700 Government ITIs have been modernized. Another 3000 ITIs, 5000 Skill Development Centres and 27 Advanced Training Institutes are proposed to be set up during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).

The Modular Employable Skills (MES) programme of the Ministry of Labour & Employment provides short duration courses to prospective trainees using both Government and private infrastructure. It is an attempt towards increasing employment in the unorganized sector at a rapid pace. In order to achieve our ambitious targets, the skilling efforts of both the Central and the State Governments need to be supplemented by the private sector.

Furthermore, skills need to be closely matched with emerging job requirements. This calls for setting up of national standards for skill formation benchmarked to global standards, development of appropriate curriculum design for specific skills and formation of new assessment and certifying bodies besides strengthening the existing ones.

The National Skill Development Corporation has been established for promoting private sector efforts in the area of skill development. In addition, the Government has recently taken the decision to set up the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) to anchor and operationalize the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) which should play a vital role in transforming the quality of training in our country. The NSDA will also endeavor to bridge the social, regional, gender and economic divides in processes of skill development.

I have no doubt that with active participation of the industry, the Trade Unions and the Government, we will be able to achieve more effective outcomes in improving the employability of our youth and thus pave the way for generating decent employment opportunities for them commensurate with their rising aspirations. This is the task to which I commit our country.

Ever since the UPA Government came to power in 2004, we have endeavoured to work for the welfare of workers. When I look back at what I had said when I addressed the 40th Session of this Conference in 2005, I feel a sense of satisfaction that we have delivered substantially on the promises we had made at that time. I had at that time spoken about the need for a new deal to the working people, the need for ensuring the welfare and well being of all workers, particularly those in the unorganized sector, and the legislation that was under consideration in this regard.

I am happy that we have achieved good results in these areas, though I would be the first one to recognize that there is much that still needs to be done. We launched the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) in 2008 to provide for smart card based hospitalization facilities for workers in the unorganized sector. We have been expanding the reach of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) to cover larger numbers of workers in the informal sector. Under this scheme, 3.41 crore smart cards have been issued so far.

The RSBY now covers additional categories of workers including construction workers, street vendors, domestic workers and even beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. Our Government enacted the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 for the benefit of the workers in the informal sector. We have increased the eligibility limit under the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 from Rs 3500 per month to Rs 10000 per month. The medical bonus payable under the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 has also been enhanced. We have also enhanced the period of unemployment allowance to retrenched workers from 6 months to 1 year under the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana.

The National Policy on Safety, Health and Environment and the National Policy on HIV and AIDS in the World of Work were put in place in the year 2009. We have taken proactive steps for elimination of child labour. Our Government has taken a decision to amend the Child Labour Prohibition & Regulation Act, 1986 to ban all child labour below 14 years to enable our children to exercise their right to education. I am happy that the number of children working as labourers in our country has decreased by 45% from 90.75 lakh in 2004-05 to 49.84 lakh in year 2009-10. We now need to ensure that this is brought down further.

A number of Bills have been introduced for amending Acts such as the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988, the Mines Act, 1952 and the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979. Besides, a number of amendments in labour laws are at various stages of consideration. The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Act was amended in the year 2010 to cover factories employing 10 or more workers, instead of the earlier threshold of 20. The wage ceiling for coverage of employees has been enhanced from Rupees 10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month.

The number of establishments covered has increased to 5.80 lakh till the end of 2011-12 from 3.94 lakh in year 2008-09. Twenty seven ESIC hospitals are being modernized and four have already been upgraded. Five new ESIC hospitals were commissioned in 2011-12. Insured persons are now being issued Smart Cards and super specialty treatment facilities have been extended to them. The ESIC organization has undertaken a massive computerization project for more effective delivery of benefits to the insured persons.

Modernization initiatives in the Employees Provident Fund Organization have resulted in 25% increase in the settlement of claims as compared to the previous year. The Status of all Provident Fund Accounts is now available online along with SMS alerts for important account information. Payment is now possible through National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT). There are certain vulnerable groups of workers that need our special attention. I would urge this Conference to focus particularly on the well being and welfare of migrant workers, domestic workers and those working in unsafe conditions. These groups not only need special legislative support but also a more effective implementation of the existing laws that have been made for their protection and wellbeing. We need to bring in the best international practices for bringing about improvements in their working conditions.

The Government of India, Industry, Trade Unions and State Governments need to work in partnership to strengthen our society, our economy and our country. I would like to take today’s opportunity to reaffirm our Government’s firm commitment to building such a partnership. We are all aware that our economy is going through difficult circumstances and our growth is not what we would like it to be. Even as the Government works for reversing this situation and I am confident, we can do so and we will do it, we need the cooperation of both Captains of Industry and our Trade Unions. In the recent months we have taken a number of steps to boost investment, encourage enterprise and improve business sentiment. We have paid special attention to the need for removing bottlenecks that hamper new industrial activity. I would urge you all Captains of Industry and Trade Union leaders to help us in making a success of these efforts. I wish your deliberations all success.”



Manmohan Singh urges trade unions to work together

By ET Bureau | 18 May, 2013, 05.00AM IS


NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged trade unions and industry captains to work together to drive India’s slowing economy out of the woods after conceding that ‘growth is not what we would like it to be.’

Referring to the government’s recent decisions to boost investment and improve business sentiment, the prime minister said that there is a need for the central and state governments to work in partnership with the industry and trade unions to strengthen the country’s economy by removing bottlenecks that hamper new industrial activity.

Addressing the Indian Labour Conference in the capital on Friday, Singh didn’t directly acknowledge the growing labour unrest across India Inc that has led to indefinite lockouts and violent protests in major firms like Maruti SuzukiBSE -1.00 %.

But he did take note of the unprecedented two-day strike called by all central trade unions in February this year and assured employee representatives that a group of ministers under Finance Minister P Chidambaram will go into the ‘whole gamut of demands’ raised by them and ‘some forward movement’ can be expected soon.

“The recent two-day strike by trade unions focused on a number of issues relating to the welfare not only of the working-classes but also the people at large. These include demands on which there can be no disagreement,” the PM said, referring to the need for concrete measures to curb inflation, create jobs and implement labour laws more effectively.

Singh also sought to change the narrative about job creation that has shrouded his administration. While the government’s own manpower research agency has said that the period since 2004 has seen ‘jobless growth’ in India, Singh said that “according to some available data, we created 20 million additional job opportunities” between 2004-05 and 2009-10.

“The unemployment rate came down from 8.3% to 6.6% during the same period. This period suffered from one of the worst global meltdowns in history and most of the countries, developed and developing, have registered increased in their unemployment rates while we were still able to create additional jobs,” Singh said. “Employment in the unorganised sector registered a growth of more than 9% from 26.5 million in 2005 to 29 million in 2011,” the PM said. He also asserted that the number of women working in the organised sector has registered a 19% growth, indirectly refuting reports that women’s participation in India’s labour force had fallen in recent years.





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Dear Comrades,             May Day, 2013
On the eve of the May Day, we convey our fraternal greetings to all our unions and members all over the country.

May Day – the solemn day for all of us : May Day is the day to recall the sacrifices the workers have made; May Day is the day to remember the martyrs who raised their voice against exploitation of workers ; May Day is the day to look back at the path of struggles that have taken us to the present advancements of the trade unions. May Day is the day to realise the need for international working class solidarity. May Day is the day to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of the workers. May Day is the day to take the pledge to continue our struggle against exploitation of man by man.

8 Hours work – a demand even today : May Day denotes the beginning of the demand for an 8-hours working when the workers in Chicago raised this demand in 1886. We have come a long way but even today, this demand remains so relevant. Even today workers are being denied of this basic right. In India also, this demand has become very significant because the employers and capitalists are exploiting the workers with unlimited working hours in the unorganized sector, IT sector, etc. Even in our banking sector, instances are not few where the managements expect and compel the employees to work beyond our stipulated working hours. For the bank officers, regulated working hours is the loud cry. But shamefully, the Government not only keeps a blind eye to these demands, rather, some of their ministries even recommend freedom to employers to stretch the working hours to 12 hours per day.

How long to tolerate the disparity: May Day reminds us that the policies of capitalism and exploitation leads to concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and deprivation and marginalization of the overwhelming masses of people. Today the top rich 20 % people of the world control 83 % of the global wealth and the remaining 80% of the people have to share the remaining 17 % thus presenting before a world of disparity and inequities. While the world has 1426 billionaires today, the UN Report says that the level of poverty in the globe has gone up. In India, the number of billionaires has gone up from 48 to 55 this year with Mukesh Ambani leading the table with Rs. 1,15,500 crores of wealth. But the UN Report says that the largest of number of poor people of the world live in India.

Eight states in India have more poor people than 26 poorest countries in Africa : The States include Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Rajasthan. This shocking review is according to a new measure of poverty developed at Oxford. It is called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). This shows that these states are poor, not because they lack money. It is because they lack even the most basic standards of living.

The new indicators to measure poverty include education, health, housing, nutrition, and assets. Access to basic services like drinking water, sanitation, cooking fuel and electricity are also included. If we use the MPI, it turns out that more than 50% of the world’s poor live in South Asia, and only over a quarter (28%) in Africa.

India has had great progress with rapid GDP growth, higher income and less poverty measured in cold monetary terms. However, in terms of actual human development, we are still one of the world’s poorest.

Whither goes the wealth we produce: Workers produce all the wealth in the world. But they are exploited and made to remain poor. In India, under the regime of globalisation and liberalisation, production has gone up, sales has gone up, prices have gone up, profit has gone up but wages are depressed and denied.

We deserve a better world, a better society , a better deal. Let us take a pledge that we shall continue our fight for the same. Indian trade union movement has started to show the way – united struggle and militant resistance. Let us march on further.

Yours Comradely,


29 April 2013

The World Federation of Trade Unions appeals to all the trade union organizations in the world to organize on the occasion of May Day 2013 rallies and activities in all countries, in all continents, honoring the International Workers’ Day and the martyrs of the working class. The WFTU proposes, based on its resolution at its Presidential Council Meeting on March 7-8,2013 in Lima Peru, the slogan: “CHICAGO SHOWED US THE WAY” to be used next to the respective slogans of each union organization.

The international trade union movement bears great responsibility to protect and defend the International Workers Day from the efforts of capitalist governments, employers, various institutions and non governmental organizations to vanquish this day or completely alter its meaning.

The May Day is for the international working class a SYMBOL of the irreplaceable role that the workers hold in the society and the production, of the important and the victorious achievements of the class struggles historically, of the fact that all the rights are the fruit of bloody struggles. Nothing was handed over to the working people.

The May Day is a DAY OF MEMORY AND TRIBUTE to the martyrs of the working class who sacrificed themselves in the crucial and decisive strikes of the American workers in Chicago (1886) demanding 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, 8 hours of rest, as well as the struggles for the working hours in many countries all over the world before and after the Chicago strikes, throughout the history of the class struggle until today. We pay tribute to the martyrs of the working class who were killed, tortured, imprisoned and were forcibly disappeared by the anti-popular and anti-labor governments of the capital in all continents.

The May Day is a LESSON FOR THE NEW GENERATIONS that includes the principles of the working class such as the proletarian internationalism, the class unity, the irreplaceable value of the decisive struggles with class-orientation.

Most of all, the May Day is a DAY OF STRUGGLE where the International Working Class meets in the streets of the fight for the contemporary labour and social rights. For the right to less working hours with dignified salaries which was realistic in the 1880’s and cannot be unrealistic in the technological progress of the 21st century!

Nowadays, while capitalism being in its deep crisis exposes in all the spectrum its barbaric, brutal and ruthless face confiscating any ounce of right from the working class and the popular strata; Nowadays that the competition of the monopolies creates more battlefields and new imperialist interventions; Nowadays that the state violence, repression of social and labour struggles and the violation of the trade union freedom escalate internationally let’s move:

– Chicago showed the way – NO to the contemporary capitalist slavery

– We fight for a world without exploitation of men by men

– On May Day, the WFTU expresses its internationalist solidarity with the people of Cuba, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Mali, Colombia, Venezuela etc.

Building Workers’ Power: ITUC May Day Statement 2013
29 April 2013


Working people are facing sustained and often brutal attacks on their rights in every region of the world. Inequality and unemployment are hitting record levels, as governments continue to follow the failed and destructive policy of austerity-at-any-cost, and the onslaught against collective bargaining continues. The future of an entire generation of young people is at serious risk.

Corporate greed runs unchecked, costing the lives of thousands of workers, most recently in Bangladesh and Pakistan as factories burn and collapse. Trade unionists in Colombia, Guatemala and elsewhere are paying the ultimate price for their commitment to social justice, while Turkish workers face the heavy hand of judicial repression for standing up for their rights.

The promise of transformation in the Arab world is being betrayed by the replacement of one form of autocracy by another. Decades of social progress in European countries are being wiped out by the untrammelled power of global finance, while people across Africa continue to suffer under neocolonial plunder and corruption.

Discrimination against women at work is still pervasive, while migrant workers are exploited, abused and treated as slaves, even in some of the richest countries of the world.
The spirit of solidarity that inspired the first May Day marches, and has sustained trade unionism ever since, remains strong. It is more needed than at any time in decades. Our movement must grow, to foster and harness that spirit to counter the false promise of neoliberalism.
We must build workers’ power.

Workers everywhere are showing their resilience in the face of model of globalisation designed to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. Through their unions they are winning new gains for working people. Hundreds thousands of informal workers in India are building their unions, domestic workers across the globe are gaining labour rights for the first time in history, and unions are leading political and community action for development, sustainability and social justice in every part of the world.
Where governments turn their backs on working people, unions must organise.

Where company bosses pit worker against worker, unions must organise. We must grow in number and in strength, taking inspiration from those who stand today, and have stood in years gone by, steadfast against repression and the avarice of the few at the expense of the many.

This May Day 2013, we must rededicate ourselves to the enduring vision of the foremothers and forefathers of the greatest democratic power on the planet – the power of working people, united and determined to make the world a better place.