Labour and employment secretary Shankar Aggarwal, a 1980 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, speaks to Surya Sarathi Ray of FE on why the talks with trade unions failed and the rationale behind raising bounties for the workers:
Why did talks with central trade unions (CTUs) fail?
The CTUs had already given a call for the strike, so they are going ahead with it. We have addressed all their demands and if they still feel the need to go for the strike, then I think it is under certain compulsions. As far as I know, BMS and DHN are not going for the strike.
Do you think the strike and the atmosphere it created could hit the ‘Make in India’ initiative?
I don’t think so. The idea behind the ‘Make in India’ campaign is to create jobs for millions of people. The government and all other associations would not stop taking decisions (aimed at increasing India’s manufacturing competitiveness), after the strike.
The labour ministry has assured the CTUs of many things — to make minimum wages mandatory, to enhance bonus ceiling etc. Are you sure that you will get the approval of the cabinet to implement them?
Yes, we are confident. The competent authority is the government and Parliament. At the moment, these assurances are from the ministry of labourl.
Don’t you think that the cost of manufacturing will go up if you implement all of them?
I don’t think so. The cost of manufacturing depends on various factors — the productivity needs to improve. The idea is that we must have highly skilled and committed people. Unless we raise the productivity, we won’t be globally competitive and be able to create jobs within the country.
Are you sure that these bounties would enhance productivity?
There is a need for a balanced approach. We are trying to make people productive and to create an environment where there is an incentive for high productivity.