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Strikes not best ways to resolve unrest: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Dec. 5 : Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that industrial strife, strikes and lockouts are not the best means to resolve unrest, adding that only peaceful tripartite dialogue can resolve such issues.

“There is need to enlarge the space for resolving industrial problems through peaceful tripartite dialogue. Industrial strife, strikes and lockouts are not the best means to resolve unrest”, Singh said while addressing the 31st plenary session of the Congress-backed Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).

He further said that the countrywide general strike on September 2 was a reflection of workers’ dissatisfaction with the “anti-labour and unimaginative economic policies of the NDA government.

“In the name of structural labour reforms, efforts are being made to reduce the scope for secure industrial jobs in favour of contract labour and hire and fire approach,” he added.

“There was broad consensus in the country that India’s economy needed to grow at an annual rate of about 8 per cent along with creating jobs”, he said while urging the trade union movement to take into account the fast changing social and economic conditions and the approach of the government in dealing with these conditions.

“The trade union movement can play a very important role in ensuring that the growth process is both inclusive as well as environmentally sustainable,” he said.

“The trade union movement has to be aware that at present the Indian economy faces a fragile recovery and inadequate expansion of employment opportunities. Public enterprises face an uncertain future. Every employment-oriented programme, such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, faces reduced allocations,” he added.

Singh admitted that there was need for at least 500 million skilled workers by 2022 and said that the actual pace on the ground is only a fraction of this target.

He urged the INTUC to expand to the unorganized sectors such as agriculture and construction, paying particular attention to the needs of women workers, as also workers’ education and skill development. (ANI)