New Delhi : Pitching for the dignity of labour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said no law related to India’s workforce will be changed without consulting the trade unions while emphasising on ensuring the interests of both the employed and the job-seekers.

Launching two schemes at the 46th Indian Labour Congress here, the prime minister said: “Changes in our labour laws will be carried out in concurrence with the trade unions. Our engagement with trade unions will continue.”

The prime minister said the reason why the government intended to pursue labour reforms was to simplify laws so that they benefit and recognise the talent of the workforce. The purpose, he added, was also to ensure that even the poorest understand their rights and avail of them.

He said laws alone can also not bring about the desired objective, and only the combined efforts of labour unions, industrialists and government would lead to results which were in the interest of the nation’s economy.

Modi said everyone must also realise that there was little difference between the interests of a worker and labour unions, just as in the case of industry and industrialists and the government and the country.

The schemes launched by the prime minister on Monday were relating to a national career service portal and an improved insurance scheme. Modi also said that 4.67 crore workers had already been given a portable provident fund account with just one universal number connecting them to an online network.

Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also made similar remarks pitching for managements and staff to work together and said a sluggish industry can’t fetch investment, only an efficient economy and growth will protect labour’s interest. 

“A high growth rate will always protect workmen and labour interest,” the finance minister said, adding: “If fountains of investment stop, then economic activity stops, jobs are threatened.”

Speaking at the session, a day after labour leaders met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and him to discuss various issues, Jaitley said the government was working hard towards ensuring a decent social security system for the workers.

Jaitley said it wasn’t sufficient to promote investments and that actual money must flow in for growth to take place. “A sluggish economy cannot create jobs. An overloading taxation system will not be able to create jobs,” he said.

At the meeting over tea on Sunday, differences persisted between central trade unions and the government over the contentious issues of contract labour and minimum wages, besides the effort to recast the various labour laws

Both the prime minister and the finance minister also pushed for dignity of labour.

“There is a wrong habit which has crept in, we do not respect our labour enough,” Modi said. “As a society, we need to respect the dignity of labour.”

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