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Don't curtail interest rate on EPF: Left

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Oct 25: The Left parties and their labour wings today set an 11-point agenda for the new Labour Minister which includes no further curtailment of interest rate on EPF, removal of ceiling on bonus, restoration of trade union rights in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and immediate holding of the Indian Labour Conference.

In separate interviews to sources, the Left leaders also regretted that the previous Minister did not even hold the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour during the current year which has only two months left.

As part of a minor expansion and reshuffle, Mr Oscar Fernandes, the Minister without portfolio, has been given the independent charge of Labour and Employment.

Mr Fernadnes, who is on a visit to Mizoram, is expected to assume office tomorrow.

Drawing Mr Fernandes' immediate attention, CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said, ''So many issues are pending as the previous Labour Minister remained engaged in the Telangana movement and did not have time for the workers.'' The veteran Communist said the issues relating to EPF, bonus and trade union rights in the proposed SEZs needed urgent attention.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M K Pandhe, while recalling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurance to the trade unions on August 19, called for immediate setting up of a Review Committee on Consumer Price Index, the revival of sick industries and the removal of ceiling on bonus.

Mr Pandhe, who is also CITU president, made a strong case for changing the proposed approach to labour issues in the Eleventh Five Year Plan .

He also asked the new Labour Minister to take steps to ensure that the long pending Bills on unorganised workers and agricultural workers were introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament, beginning late next month.

CPI National Secretary Shamim Faizi said the Parlimentary Consulatative Committeee on Labour had made several meaningful recommendations that needed to be translated into law.

''The issues like continued violation of labour laws, attempts to retrench a larger number of employees and closure of industrial units need to be tackled without further delay,'' Mr Faizi, the editor of party weekly 'New Age', added.

CPI Floor leader in the Lok Sabha Gurudas Dasgupta said, ''We want the new Labour Minister to see with open eyes the problems and miseries of the workers.'' Mr Dasgupta, who is also AITUC General Secretary, said they wanted Mr Fernandes to re-convert his department from a ''Ministry of Corporate Houses to Department of Workers''.

Forward Bloc National Secretary G Devrajan, while welcoming the appointment of Mr Fernandes, said his Party had placed its demands both before previous Labour Ministers Sis Ram Ola and Chandra Shekhar Rao, but nothing concrete came out.

''We had also presented the 15-point detailed charter of demands to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which pleaded for no further curtialment of interest on EPF,'' Mr Devrajan added.

The Left leaders also asked the new Labour Minister not to carry forward further privatisation of banking and insurance sectors.

They also drew Mr Fernandes' attention to the ongoing process of privatising at least 100 post offices in various parts of the country and called for a course correction in this regard.

The National Federation of Postal Employees unions would soon observe an indefinite strike to oppose the move, Mr Devrajan added.

UNI

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