Raise I-T Exemption Limit To Rs 5 lakh: Unions

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Trade unions asked the government to increase the income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh and the minimum wage to Rs 18,000 besides raising the minimum monthly pension to Rs 3,000 for all, reported PTI.

They also sought a special package for victims of the recent Tamil Nadu floods.

Raise I-T Exemption Limit To Rs 5 lakh: Unions
These demands were raised under a 15-point charter submitted by 11 central trade unions to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during pre-Budget consultations held here. The Union Budget for the next financial year, 2016-17, is slated to be presented in Parliament in February end. It will take effect from April 1.

"We have demanded a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month which is higher than our earlier demand of Rs 15,000," Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh Zonal Organisation Secretary Pawan Kumar said after the meeting.

The 7th Pay Commission has recommended Rs 18,000 as minimum monthly wage for central government workers and it should be the benchmark, he said.

All Indian Trade Union Congress Secretary DL Sachdev said: "We have also demanded Rs 3,000 minimum monthly pension for all and asked for a special package for flood ravaged Tamil Nadu to provide relief to workers as well as industry in the next Budget."

Sachdev said that in view of price rise "we have also demanded from the government to increase the income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh per annum".

The union have also asked that fringe benefits like housing, medical and educational facilities and running allowances in railways should be exempted from Income Tax.

Unions also demanded that PSUs should be strengthened and expanded and the disinvestment of government shares in profit making PSUs should be stopped.

Besides, they said that the budgetary support should be provided for revival of potentially viable sick PSUs.

On the price rise, the charter said: "Take effective measures to arrest the spiralling price rise especially of food and essential items of daily use. Ban speculative forward trading in essential commodities, check on hoarding and universalise and strengthen Public Distribution System."

Expressing concerns over steel and aluminium sectors, the unions said: "Relentless and increasing flow of import of industrial commodities including capital goods must be contained and regulated to prevent dumping and also to protect and promote domestic industries and prevent loss of employment."

It also said that "FDI should not be allowed in crucial sectors like defence production, Railways, financial sector, retail trade and other strategic sectors. In other areas, terms and conditions for FDI should be made public. The unions' joint charter of demand said the threshold limit of 20 employees in Employees' Provident Fund Scheme be brought down to 10.

It said that the government and employers' contribution be increased to allow sustainability of employees pension scheme and for provision of minimum pension of Rs 3,000 per month.

The proposal for introducing option for subscribers in EPF and ESI made in the last year's Budget should be dropped, it said.

The unions also demanded that the New Pension Scheme be withdrawn and newly recruited employees of central and state governments on or after January 1, 2004 be covered under the Old Pension Scheme.

On Labour Law Reforms, they said: "The process of labour law reforms being pursued by the government to provide for unhindered hire and fire and for pushing the majority of workers outside the purview and protection of most of the labour laws -- all for ease of doing business, be stopped. No labour law amendment be undertaken without the consent of trade unions and workers who are the main stake holders and also the most affected."

On 7th Central Pay Commission, they said: "The government must discuss the issues raised by National Joint Council of Action of Central Government employees and other organisations before taking any decision on the recommendations of the Commission. The issues of minimum wage quantification, lowering of rates of some allowances and abolition of some others have wider ramifications and therefore require corrective measures."

About the contract or casual workers they said that these workers should not be deployed on jobs of perennial nature. Till regularisation, these workers should be paid the same wages and benefits as paid to regular workers doing the same work.

Unions said that the massive workforce engaged in ICDS, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Shiksha Mitra, the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) and other schemes be regularised.

They added that there should be no privatisation of centrally funded schemes. Budget allocation should not be drastically cut as done in last year; it should be substantially increased.

The unions said that the proper management of cess under construction workers welfare funds be also ensured and there should a national fund administered by central government.

Read more about: arun jaitley
Story first published: Tuesday, January 5, 2016, 8:10 [IST]
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