Centre makes peace gestures, unions adamant

The Centre on Tuesday sought to make peace with Central trade unions, which have given a notice for a nationwide strike on September 2, by raising the minimum wage for non-agricultural unskilled workers (Category C) to Rs 350 per day from Rs 240 per day, as recommended by the Minimum Wage Advisory Board. However, most of the trade unions, except for the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, were unimpressed and said they would go ahead with the strike. Sources said trade unions would nevertheless discuss the issue on Wednesday.
The Centre, he added, would implement the Bonus Amendment Act strictly and support the legislation and take steps to resolve cases pending in High Courts and the Supreme Court with regard to payment of bonus.
On the issue of registration of unions, Jaitley said advisories would be sent to the State governments to ensure such registrations within 45 days. Sector-specific meetings would be held to resolve issues, he added. The government, he said, is committed to the tripartite consultation process.
The registration of contract workers and their staffing agencies is mandatory, and States will be advised to strictly implement them, he said. Replying to a query on the strike, Jaitley said, “I think we have responsible trade unions….and will respond to this.”
On the bank unions’ opposition to the government’s plans to merge associate banks of the SBI with the parent, Jaitley said: “The merger will not impact the service conditions of employees. If the government decides that we need strong banks, unions will have to change their stance on this issue.”
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