New Delhi: The 42nd session of the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) starts on Friday in New Delhi and is expected to focus on unemployment as the country gets pummelled by an economic slowdown in an election year.
This year’s ILC, being held after a gap of a year, is expected to see government officials, trade unionists and industry members depart from the usual discussion of diverse issues to focus on job losses that could turn into a major political issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls due by May.
Slowdown fears: A file photo of labour and employment minister Oscar Fernandes at the Indian Labour Conference in 2007. PIB
According to labour ministry statistics, as many as half a million people have lost their jobs between October and December. Another 10 million people are in danger of losing their job this year if the current slide continues, said G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the Indian National Trade Union Congress. The Congress-affiliated union claims to have 100 million members. The conference will be inaugurated by stand-in finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Trade unions affiliated to opposition parties say that the government’s first priority now should be to generate jobs when contract workers don’t have adequate protection against retrenchment.
The two left-wing trade unions, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions, are expected to press the government at the annual meet to take measures to prevent layoffs in companies that have benefited from the government’s recent financial stimulus packages.
“Of course there is a financial crisis, but the revival packages cannot be unconditional,” said Amarjit Kaur, secretary of AITUC.