CPI blasts govt for not acting in workers' interests

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (UNI) CPI member D Raja today launched a blistering attack on the ''aam admi'' UPA government for pursuing an economic agenda that had proved detrimental to the interests of the workforce, particularly in the unorganised sector which had been left at the mercy of market forces.

Initiating a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Labour and Employment Ministry, Mr Raja said the new economic policies were concentrating on profit maximisation and labour rationalisation while little was being done to ensure minimum wages for the workers in the unorganised sector which accounted for 93 per cent of the total labour force.

He also reeled out a string of statistics to contend that economic growth was not accompanied by employment opportunities.

''Economic growth is not accompanied by employment opportunities...jobs are not only becoming informal and contractual but also shrinking and outsourced. 'Hire and Fire' is rampant.

There is a huge staff reduction in the government sector and there are huge job losses in many industries,'' he added.

Mr Raja, whose party is an outside supporter of the UPA government at the Centre, said the issue of minimum wages was not a priority of the government, which had boasted of growth with a human face.

He said the Common Minimum Programme of the government had talked about enhanced welfare of farmers, labourers and workers, especially in the unorganised sector.

''But the fact is that the allocation for the Labour Ministry has been enhanced from Rs 1045.77 crore in 2004-05 to 2498.01 crore in 2008-09. Such an increase is not substantial and will cripple the ministry in executing its schemes,'' he argued.

Mr Raja said the government had grandiose plans of creating 10 million jobs every year for the next ten years, but such a plan would require substantial investment.

The Left leader also rued the fact that little was being done to upgrade the skills of workers though there was a huge demand for skilled labour force in the market.

Mr Raja said the government had announced a Skill Development Initiative (SDI) on the PPP model to upgrade the efficiency of the labour force.

He also pointed out that Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in his latest budget speech, said the scheme would be known as Skill Development Mission (SDM). ''But the scheme has remained a non-starter. No attempt has been made to upgrade ITIs,'' he rued.

In this connection, he said India has 35 skill categories while China has 350, and it was because of this fact that the Chinese economy had been witnessing a massive transformation.

In particular, he regretted the lack of a social security mechanism for the unorganised workforce and said any plan to provide insurance to them through a private insurance company would be counter-productive.

Also, the government had failed to put in place a law for recognition of trade unions that had resulted in workers toiling in a hostile atmosphere, he pointed out.

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