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Budget 2018: Trade unions urge Centre to focus on employment generation

New Delhi: Trade Unions want the government to allocate more funds in the Union Budget for employment generation and claimed that opening up the retail market to foreign players would lead to further loss of jobs.

Though Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said suggestions made by trade union leaders during a pre-budget consultation meet last month would be considered, the leaders felt the government's economic exercise was only meant to benefit corporate house.

 Budget 2018: Trade unions urge Centre to focus on employment generation

Representational image. Reuters

The leaders of two major central unions claimed thousands of people had lost their jobs because the government's demonetisation decision had adversely affected small and medium industries, forcing them to either shut down or sack workers.

"We want the government to spend the maximum in job creation. We think after such a big loss of jobs in India because of demonetisation, the government should bring back jobs lost and generate more jobs," All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) general secretary Amarjit Kaur told PTI.

AITUC and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) also attacked the government's recent decision to open up the retail market to foreign players.

"This will only uproot the existing jobs available in the sector," CITU general secretary Tapan Sen told PTI.

The trade union leaders said though the government always claimed foreign investment would lead to the creation of jobs, there was no guarantee it would. Foreign investors would like to keep labour costs to a minimum, they held.

"So we think the attempt of the government even before the budget is to further attack those sectors which generate jobs. The decision for 100 per cent FDI in retail will again affect the job market," Kaur said.

The decision would not only affect retail traders but also workers who produced material for trade, she said.

The trade unions alleged that while the issue of job loss had been brought to the notice of the government several times, it had no solutions to offer.

Sen also criticised the government's approach towards employment generation.

"The government must consider its capacity to generate productive employment. But its approach is to create more entrepreneurs. The government forgets that the workers' numbers are much higher than those of entrepreneurs," Sen said.

They also claimed the government's skill development projects were not job oriented.

"You need trained people for jobs. We want the government to start vocational training in schools. That is where the government should invest," Kaur said.

The trade union leaders attacked the government for doing away with wealth tax and said the government should bring the policy back so that the money generated could be utilised for the social sector and job creation.

They also suggested that the government reduce indirect taxes and collect unpaid taxes from corporate houses for use in the social sector.

Minister Jaitley, who met a group of trade unions including CITU and AITUC for pre-Budget consultations on December 5, had said the Central government was committed to safeguarding the interests of workers.

The Union Budget will be presented on 1 February.

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Updated Date: Jan 15, 2018 15:57:35 IST