They are observing “Call Attention Day” on the day of Budget, opines C.Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is going to present the Budget 2021 in the parliament on 1st Feb. 2021. The National Joint Council of Action of the more than 32 Lakhs Central Govt. Employees which includes Railways, Defence, Postal, Income Tax, Accounts & Audit Department, Central Secretariat etc. have decided to observe “Call Attention Day” on the same day of Budget to draw the attention of the Modi Government on their outstanding grievances and demands. www.indianpsu.com spoke to C.Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and asked him about his expectation from the Budget. His response is given below -
Past experience says that the announcements in the General Budget of the Government is always to benefit the Corporates and the crony capitalists to give them concessions and Tax relief etc. Common man is always neglected. His need and aspirations are never reflected in the Budget of the Govt. Before drafting the Budget a ritual consultation takes place with various stake holders including the Central Trade Unions. While the proposals and suggestions of the Industry bodies and Employer’s Organization are included in the Budget, none of the proposals given by the Central Trade Unions were ever included in the Budget by the Finance Minister. For the Budget 2021-22 also the Central Trade Unions on 12/12/2020 have submitted a detailed memorandum to the Finance Minister in their pre-budget consultation. Some of the proposals are listed below:-
1. National Minimum wage should be fixed at not less than Rs.21,000/- per month
2. Employment opportunity to be operated by filling up of the vacant posts in Central Govt. and PSUs
3. Job opportunities to be created for trained Apprentices, instead of incentivizing the Employers for engaging apprentices in the name of Skill Development
4. Increase Budgetary allocations for social sector
5. Effective measures should be taken against deliberate tax and loan repayment defaults
6. Stop disinvestments and strategic sale of public sector units
7. Settle all 7th Central Pay Commission related demands of Central Government Employees
8. No FDI in Defence and other strategic sector
9. No Corporatisation and privatization of Defence and Railway Sector
10. To enact a central law and create support system for domestic workers
11. No labour Law amendments without consent of Trade Unions
12. Withdraw the New Pension Scheme
13. The ceiling for Income Tax for salaried persons and pensioners should be raised to Rs.10 lakh per year
Let us wait and watch whether any one of the above 13 major issues focused by the Central Trade Unions are going to be incorporated in the Budget of 2021-22 of the Finance Minister. The National Joint Council of Action of Central Govt. Employees who worked day and night to keep the Govt. Machinery running even during COVID-19 Lockdown period are feeling as a neglected lot due to the anti labour policies being adopted by the present Govt. Taking advantage of COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has announced Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories, Railway production Units, Privatisation of PSUs etc.
Adding salt to the wound, the Modi Govt. has frozen the DA due to the Central Govt. Employees and the DR due to the Pensioners for more than 18 months. None of the demands of the Central Government Employees connected with the 7th CPC is settled. Employees are asked to work in the Night Shift and they are being refused Night Duty Allowance by restricting the eligibility criteria. It is now 15 years after the introduction of the New Pension Scheme which is proved to be a draconian scheme, since there is no guarantee even for a minimum pension in the scheme. Posts are either abolished or lying vacant, thereby every employee is forced to do the work of more than 2 employees.
When the Government is not prepared to listen to the Central Government Employees and Pensioners, can they expect any miracle from the current budget. If the Government is even little bit sensitive towards Central Govt. Employees, then the Finance Minister should announce in the Budget for withdrawal of the decision taken to corporatize the Ordnance Factories and Railway Production Units, immediate release of the 3 installments of DA/DR due to the employees and pensioners, an announcement to withdraw the New Pension Scheme, to raise the Income Tax ceiling limit to Rs. 10 lakh per year, to fill up all the posts lying vacant in the Central Government Departments, to grant ex-gratia compensation payment to the employees died due to COVID-19 infection, to grant compassionate appointment to the wards of the deceased Central Government Employees.
These are all some of the issues which the Central Government Employees are expecting from this Government. Unfortunately due to the apathy of the Government towards its own employees, they are demoralized and they have started approaching Court of Law to settle their grievances. This defeat the purpose of setting up of the Joint Consultative Machinery for the Central Government employees. Let us wait and watch what NirmalaJi is going to announce on 1st Feb. 2021. In any case the 32 lakh Central Government Employees are going to observe call attention day on the same day by holding massive demonstration through out the country. This is only a beginning. More and more united Action programmes are also being planned by the Trade Unions of Central Govt. Employees. Relentless struggle is the only way out to realize the demands of the employees. The Farmers united struggle is an example. The Central Government employees also should come forward to fight for realizing their demands. After all whatever the Government employees have achieved was only through their united struggles in the past.
Views expressed here are those of C.Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)