New Delhi, November 29
Ten central trade unions boycotted the pre-Budget consultations with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman because of “just three minutes” allotted to each speaker while the government’s last-minute efforts to substitute these with other unions met with a refusal on similar grounds.
The meeting went ahead with just 10 people, of whom three were from trade unions, six were employers’ representatives and a sole Japanese represented the International Labour Organisation. The 10 CTUs, with the exception of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Forward Bloc-aligned Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (TUCC), had made it clear last week that they would not attend the pre-Budget consultation meeting in the virtual mode with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while terming the three minutes allotted to each speaker a cheap joke.
In an attempt to make up the numbers due to the boycott, the government late on Sunday night tried enlisting bank and insurance employees’ unions for the meeting. However, the efforts met with a stoic refusal. “We were surprised that an invitation, dated November 10, has been sent to us on November 27th evening when the meeting was to be held the next morning. We further find that we have to submit our views within three minutes. It will be impossible to submit and explain our suggestions in three minutes,” said All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) president CH Venkatachalam.
The Finance Ministry also tried to invite the General Insurance Employees’ All India Association at the last minute. Its president, Amarjeet Kaur, refused and pointed out that “ we also feel the same way” in reference to the joint letter by 10 CTUs which said three minutes for each speaker were too less.
The three trade union representatives at the meeting were B Surendran (BMS), Virat Jaiswal (NFTU) and Sheo Prasad Tiwari (TUCC). Satoshi Sasaki represented the ILO. Others were Pradeep Bhargava (CII), Sanjay Bhatia (FICCI), Piyush Raj Verma (Association of Small Industries), Ved Mani Tiwari (NSDC), Prashant Patel (FASMI) and Soma Mondal (Standing Conference of Public Enterprises).
The minister concluded the pre-Budget consultations on Monday with a meeting with economists.