Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday warned labour unions that any blocking of investments through their opposition to labour law changes could pose a threat to job creation and appealed to unions not to persist with ideas that harm economic activity.
A day after the prime minister's meeting with labour union leaders ended in a fiasco and a ministerial panel headed by the finance minister failed to break the logjam over proposed labour reforms, Jaitley said the continued growth of the economy cannot be ensured without supporting legislation.
Employment and the safety of workforce also cannot be ensured without an increase in economic activity, he added.
"If we stop the fountain of investment, then employment will not increase, then economic activity will also not increase. And it becomes a threat to existing jobs," he said addressing the 46th Indian Labour Conference in New Delhi.
The minister said Indian economy was the fastest growing among major economies and the proposed labour reforms are intended to make it easier for companies to do business and create more jobs.
"Even if we are a leader of any union or a worker of any organisation, we should not decide on anything which would deter the economic activity or employment opportunities.
"The government is trying that when the entire global economy is in a slowdown, our economy is strengthened. Today we are proud that in this slow environment, when all the countries are struggling, India is the fastest growing economy among other economies," he said.
He said a high growth rate will itself, through the forces of competition, protect the workmen and interest of labour in the country.
"An efficient economy will always protect the interest of industry and labourers. Sluggish industry will never be able to create jobs, it is only efficient industry which will be able to create jobs.
"Rational taxation system will be able to create jobs. An overloaded taxation system will not be able to create jobs. Efficient industries will be able to take higher wages and rich government will be able to provide higher wages and better social security. So it is all our responsibility so that we take the economy to that direction," he said.
The agenda of the 46th Labour Conference include:
- Implementation of the conclusions/ recommendations of the 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conference, particularly on Contract Labour, Minimum Wages and Scheme Workers and Tripartite Mechanism;
- Social Security for workers in organised and unorganied sector as also international migrant workers;
- Amendment of Bonus Act – Removal of conditions on payment ceiling, eligibility limits, decisions to pay minimum bonus without linking to loss when the performance indicator satisfy grant of bonus;
- Labour Laws amendments proposed/done either by the central or state governments;
- Employment and employment generation - The ministry of labour and employment is implementing the National Career Service (NCS) project by transforming the processes in the network of Employment Exchanges.
- The Health Reform Agenda is a comprehensive agenda package meant to transform the Public Service Delivery System in ESIC through effective use of Information and Communication Technology.
After the inaugural session and general discussion, the conference will split into the five committees to have detailed deliberation on each of the five items of the agenda of the conference.
Each conference committee will meet separately to discuss the subject matter assigned to it in detail and present the conclusions arrived at therein for adoption in the concluding session of the conference.