Labour unions seek tax relaxations, higher pension

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In pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Labour unions asked for tax relaxations and higher pension for salaried class….reports Asian Lite News

Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, chaired the sixth Pre-Budget Consultation with trade unions and labour organisations.

During the session, labour unions voiced several pressing concerns and proposed reforms aimed at protecting employee rights, enhancing social welfare, and ensuring equitable economic growth.

One of the primary issues raised was the recent reduction of penalties on defaulting employers without consulting the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

Union representatives argued that lenient penalties undermine worker protections and called for stricter enforcement measures.

The unions also raised concerns on the impact of heavy haircuts by banks under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). They argued that the current system disproportionately affects workers, who often bear the brunt of financial restructuring at the expense of their job security and financial stability.

The unions urged the government to consider alternative solutions that protect employee interests during corporate insolvencies.

Another big concern of the unions was the alleged syphoning of funds from the Reserve Bank of India in the form of dividends to the union government. Recently, the RBI gave a record dividend of Rs 2.11 lakh crore to the central government. The unions highlighted the need for a more transparent and equitable distribution of funds, stressing that excessive government withdrawals could undermine the central bank’s financial independence and stability.

In addition to these issues, the unions called for the inclusion of fossil fuels under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) framework. They argued that the exclusion of fossil fuels from GST is an unjust anomaly that distorts market dynamics and hinders the development of a fair and comprehensive tax system.

One of the key fiscal proposals put forward by the labour representatives was an increase in the corporate tax rate to mobilise resources for public spending. They criticised the recent cuts in corporate taxes as unjust and called for a reversal to ensure that businesses contribute their fair share to national development.

The unions also advocated for the imposition of an inheritance tax on the super-rich; even a 1 percent tax ceiling on the super-rich will give substantial revenue to the government. They suggested that the revenue generated from this tax could be earmarked for critical social sectors such as education and healthcare, providing much-needed funding for public services that benefit the wider population.

On personal taxation, the unions called for an income tax rebate for salaried individuals, arguing that such a measure would provide much-needed relief to the middle class amidst rising living costs.

They also urged the government to significantly increase the gratuity amount, providing greater financial security to retiring workers. It also asked for the implementation of a statutory minimum pension of Rs 9,000 per month under the EPFO pension scheme. Union representatives argued that the current pension levels are inadequate to meet even the basic needs of retirees and called for a substantial increase to ensure a dignified life for pensioners.

The unions also argued for ensuring a statutory Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce, as recommended by the Dr MS Swaminathan Commission. They said that a guaranteed MSP is essential for protecting farmers’ incomes and ensuring the sustainability of the agricultural sector. (ANI)

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