Trade unions on Saturday urged the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley to take immediate steps to mitigate difficulties being faced by wage earners and small trades due to the cash crunch. “The new issue added in this discussion apart from our 16-point charter was because of demonetisation and the scandal that has broken out,” Centre of Indian Trade Unions President Tapan Sen told reporters in New Delhi after unionists’ pre-Budget consultations with Jaitley.
“Had they gone ahead with the preparation, we would have welcomed it. They are more interested in public relation than for the actual cause. This decision of the (Narendra) Modi government proves this.” As many as 12 central trade unions’ representatives met Jaitley on Saturday for pre-Budget consultations as part of the customary exercise ahead of the general Budget.
Sen said, “About 85 per cent of the currency was withdrawn. Small traders and unorganised sector workers are going hungry. Despite taking so much of load, bank employees are working till 12 at night, still they are earning the wrath of people for quite justified reasons.” He put the onus on the government to infuse more cash.
In the memorandum jointly submitted by 10 central trade unions, they expressed deep concern over the difficulties being faced by the common man, especially the daily wage earners. “We urge the government to take urgent steps to ameliorate their difficulties,” they said in the memorandum.
They demanded that income tax exemption ceiling for the salaried persons and pensioners be raised to Rs 5 lakh per annum. They also pushed for tax exemption in totality for all perks and fringe benefits in the railways and linking minimum monthly wage to Consumer Price Index which should be at least Rs 18,000. They made a representation for raising the ceiling of gratuity to Rs 20 lakh from January 1, 2016 as done in the case of central government employees and minimum monthly pension of Rs 3,000 under the Employees Pension Scheme run by EPFO.
All workers, they said, should be paid pension and the same should be construed as deferred wage. The unions also sought withdrawal of notification issued for utilisation of money in ‘inoperative’ EPF accounts for the Senior Citizen Welfare Fund and wanted the government to scrap decision to invest EPF fund in the stock market.