ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Industrial Labour A Privileged Class

Industrial Labour: A Privileged Class? Bagaram Tulpule ANY meaningful dialogue with organised labour on the premise that industrial workers in the country are a privileged group, can hardly even begin. This premise is not new, of course; industrialists in the country have been repeating it for years, obviously for their own purposes. But that the Prime Minister should have subscribed to it, as she did in her inaugural address to the trade union leaders' conference convened by the Labour Minister in New Delhi last week, is unfortunate. The dire poverty in which vast numbers of people in our country have to live does not make those who are only slightly less poor, a privileged group. The industrial workers' wages are still below the need-based minimum norm; their housing conditions are appalling; their social status is low; opportunities for education and advancement are absent; their real wage has been more or less stagnant over the past two dcades; they have not got any share in the rise in labour productivity that has taken place during that period. What is more, even the burden of the unemployed is carried in a large measure by the employed workers since the unemployed belong to workers' families. The PM seemed to be unaware of all these widely acknowledged facts when she declared that "in our country, to be employed is itself a privilege". It is not surprising that what she described as "a frank dialogue'' with labour but which turned out to be a peroration, did not make the desired impression on the trade union leaders who had been invited to the Conference.

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