Amit Shah assures RSS affiliate BMS on tripartite talks, ministerial panel on labour reforms

RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) said today that BJP President Amit Shah has assured it of a ministerial panel to look into the amendments in labour laws and reforms. As per the statement, Shah said that any changes in labour laws and reforms will be made only after proper consultation with trade unions. Shah also said that there will be special efforts to strengthen tripartite mechanism to settle labour issues and a ministerial group will be formed for the purpose. However, a ministerial panel headed by union minister Arun Jaitley with labour minister on its board is still in existence. The panel had met all trade unions together in August, 2015. But panel had met BMS separately last November after the protest by the central trade union. The government had drawn flak from all trade unions for certain proposed changed in the labour laws in the past. Under the labour reform, government wants to concise 38 labour laws into four broad codes on wages, industrial relations, social security and safety working conditions. Central trade unions have been pushing for the 12-point charter of demands and went on nationwide strikes on September 2 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, to press for their demands, including minimum monthly wages of Rs 15,000 and minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000. The BMS has been, however, opting out of the strikes of central trade unions since 2015. According to the statement, BMS President Saji Narayanan C K and Organising secretary B Surendra held talks with Shah. He has assured them that Employees State Insurance (ESI) and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) schemes will not be disturbed in the new Labour Code (on social security). The BMS welcomed extension of social security to unorganised sector workers. The new Social Security code is historic and revolutionary since it gives about 14 benefits to the 43 crore unorganised workers. However it said that the BMS leaders raised concerns that it (code) is contaminated with many anti-worker provisions. One apprehension is about dismantling ESI and EPF schemes, merging it with the new Social security scheme and dividing its lakhs of crores of funds with State Social security boards. This is feared to result in cross subsidisation, meaning the entire fund will be depleted for the benefit of unorganised workers who may not be paying any contribution, it said. Both (ESI and EPF) are some of the largest social security schemes in the world and doing good service to organised sector workers, it added. The BMS leaders appraised Shah about the strike of nearly three lakh GDS or Gramin Dak Sevak (previously ED) employees continuing for many days. Postal GDS employees who are the backbone of postal service in the rural and semi urban areas are demanding regularisation, implementation of Kamlesh Chandra Committee report among others. Shah said he will talk with the persons concerned and find some way out. The BMS leaders apprised him about the burning issues of Scheme workers like Anganwadi, Asha etc. Amit Shah assured, Government will work on settling the issues and increasing the wages of Scheme Workers. As per statement Shah said, Government will immediately call a meeting of Scheme workers in this regard.