New Delhi: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), India’s largest labour union affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), on Wednesday sharply criticised the Union government for poor jobs growth and “misguided reforms", among others.
“The present slowdown is the result of the wrong direction of the economy and job-displacing reforms followed as a continuation of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) policies. PM’s good intentions and efforts are neutralized by lack of proper experts, lack of communication and (lack of) feedback from social sector (which includes labour, farmer, BPL, tribal, backward people, micro industries, etc.), dependence on faulty advisors and misguided reforms," a BMS statement said.
RSS is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The statement assumes significance as BMS for over last two years stayed away from organised strikes or protests called by other central trade unions, giving cushion to the government to ignore the protests.
BMS’ links with BJP and RSS was seen as the reason why it stayed away from other central unions’ combined action in the last couple of years. With a claimed membership of over 20 million including staff from dozens of industrial sectors and unorganised sector workers, BMS is also seen as a political support base for the party.
On Wednesday, however, it was critical of key reforms, including labour reforms. BMS claimed Union government’s “excess thrust on jobless growth" has resulted in loss of employment instead of job creation. “Its labour law reforms proposed hire-and-fire, labour cost reduction…ban on recruitment, abolition of posts and staff etc." it said, adding the government’s foreign direct investment FDI policy has “destructively affected our micro and small scale sector as well as retail trade sector".
Missing jobs remain the bane of the economy three years after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power in May 2014. At least 12 million people are entering the workforce every year, but the number of jobs created has lagged far behind; between 2011-12 and 2015-16, India created 3.65 million jobs a year, according to the lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry.
BMS national president Saji Narayan said the government needs to announce a stimulus package for labour-intensive sectors and its implementation should not be handed over to the “corporate sector".
It said the stimulus package should benefit key employment-generating sectors like agriculture, small scale industries and construction sector, among others. The agriculture sector should be revived by providing more subsidies, loan waivers and other measures, it suggested.
The trade union body also demanded that the government increase work days of rural job guarantee scheme from the present 100 to 200 days per year and link it to agricultural works.
“Purchasing power of workers especially in the unorganized sector which constitutes 93.7% of total workers should be strengthened by assuring minimum wages on time. This will radically stimulate the growth trajectory," the central trade union demanded.
The demand comes at a time of expectations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may announce an economic stimulus package and redraw some economic policies. The Prime Minister has reconstituted an Economic Advisory Council led by Bibek Debroy and including Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy, Ashima Goyal, and Ratan Watal.
A Union government spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment despite attempts to reach over phone.