TO TRANSFORM all employment exchanges in the country into national career counselling centres, the Centre is coming up with 100 model centres, out of which, two will be for West Bengal, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said in Kolkata Tuesday.
“Already 100 model centres in the national level have been created and West Bengal will get two by February next year,” he told mediapersons while speaking on the sidelines of the CII’s national council meeting.
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He added: “All employment exchanges will become job seeking portals. Approximately, four crore people have registered at employment exchanges. Now, our ministry, along with these national council centres, will set up a platform for both job seekers and job providers to interact.”
The Centre, the minister said, is promoting the National Career Service (NCS), which has a base of over two crore job-seekers and nine lakh job providers. “The Centre will provide all necessary support in this endeavour,” he added. In June this year, the Prime Minister launched the NCS portal as part of the Centre’s endeavour to modernise all government-run employment exchanges.
The NCS portal, set up under the National Career Service project, will function as hand-holding agencies for job-seekers. With a network of career counsellors, the portal will help job-seekers and provide a variety of other services on the NCS portal such as information on skill development courses, apprenticeship and internship, etc.
Dattatreya said: “The state government has to give names. Already, more than two crore job-seekers and nine lakh job providers are on our portal… The employment bank, which Bengal already has, might also come under the portal.”
“These centres will be run by state governments. We will provide all modern facilities, including computer and portal facilities. An amount of Rs 800 crore has been earmarked for this. In Bengal, there will be two model centres run by the state. I will assist them financially and with whatever they need,” he added.
The minister further said that the Centre was mulling at converting strikes into mass casual leaves. “Workers have the right to hold strikes but we plan to convert the same into a mass casual leaves. Suppose any trade union wants to go for a strike, they should give a notice of a minimum of 14 days. We are trying to come to a consensus about this,” he added.
Moreover, The Centre will soon come up with a National Minimum Wage Act, which all the state governments are required to implement, Dattatreya said. “Minimum wage has to be fixed by the state government but we want a National Minimum Wage Act. We want enactment of a law. It will be statutory and every state has to implement that minimum wage,” he claimed.
The minister said that the “formula” on the wages was ready and it would come out “shortly”. “Now, we are making a formula… we are ready to go within one or two months… we will declare what will be the minimum wage at the national level and accordingly, all state governments have to implement it,” Dattatreya added.
In fact, discussions with the state governments and the trade unions regarding the matter have already been completed, the minister said. “Already, we have discussed the matter with state as well as the trade unions… And the trade unions are asking Rs 15,000 (as the minimum wage),” he added.
Incidentally, the minimum wage floor currently is Rs 160, which was hiked from Rs 137 by the Centre this July.
Stating that by the end of this financial year, the Centre would recruit around one crore people, Dattatreya said that the Centre was planning to bring out four major codes reforming the labour laws. “There are 44 labour laws. We wanted to go in for four major codes because the laws were made 50 years ago. Now, to tune with today’s situation, reforms are necessary for the simplification…,” he added. The codes would be on wages, industrial relation, social security and the working condition and safety, Dattatreya said, adding that all 44 labour laws would come under the four codes. “We want to amalgamate the four wage Acts (Minimum Wages Act-1948, Payment of Wages Act-1936, Payment of Bonus Act-1965 and Equal Remuneration Act-1975) into the labour code on wages,” he said.
The Centre was also planning to increase wages of labourers from 15 days to 45 days in case of a lock-out in a factory, the minister claimed.