During a pre-budget meeting with the finance minister, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the RSS has put forward various suggestions with regard to the new labour code.
• The RSS-affiliated trade union has demanded that the limit on earned leaves be extended by 60 days. The cap was originally at 240 days, and it now wants it to be increased to 300 days. It wants separate rules to be made for construction workers, beedi workers, plantation workers, journalists, audio-visual workers and cine workers.
• It requests the Government to provide a legal framework to state-run schemes, including Ayushman Bharat, Atal Pension Yojana and the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, so that their continuity is guaranteed.
• It demands that the income tax exemption limit be raised to Rs 10 lakh.
• It has asked for an urban MNREGA, similar to the scheme for the unemployed in the rural areas.
• BMS wants the eligibility criteria of the EPF (employees’ provident fund) scheme to be hiked from a monthly salary of Rs 15,000 to Rs 21,000, so that it is on par with the ESI (employees’ state insurance) scheme; that the rules should ensure that ESI benefits continue to be provided to the employees even after they cross the Rs 21,000 salary limit.
• It wants the Government to ensure that in all the state bodies, the International Labour Organisation’s 1:1:2 ratio — one employee, one employer and two government representatives —be strictly followed.
• It is looking forward to a widening of the definition of ‘wages’ so that all the allowances are included, preventing employers from avoiding payment of contribution to social security schemes and retirement benefits.
These suggestions, BMS claims, will provide long-term solutions and hopes will be incorporated in the 2021 budget.
In the meeting where the draft rules on the labour codes — for Social Security Code, and Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code (OSH) — were discussed, BMS pointed out that the draft rules failed to cover about 80 per cent of the provisions in the labour codes approved by the Parliament. It also pointed out that the state governments had been given maximum power to design rules, which will ultimately not benefit the workers, as labour issues are never on high priority for state governments.
The Sangh also expressed displeasure at the way tripartitie committees lack the presence of enough trade unions representatives.