Image Source : PTI Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama holds a pre-budget meeting in New Delhi.

Union Budget 2024: During a pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, trade union leaders put forth several key demands, emphasising the constitution of the 8th Pay Commission, an increase in tax rebates for the salaried class, and the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme. The union representatives stressed the necessity of stopping the government’s ongoing privatisation efforts of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). In addition, they also called for the scrapping of the New Pension Scheme, advocating instead for a return to the Old Pension Scheme.

“The ceiling limit for the income tax rebate for the salaried class on their salary and gratuity must be substantially raised. Government-sponsored social security fund for the unorganised workers and agricultural workers has to be set up to provide them with defined universal social security schemes including minimum pension of Rs 9,000 per month and other medical, educational benefits,” the CTUs said in their memorandum. 

Demands of union leaders

The union leaders have also called for the immediate filling of all existing vacancies in central government departments and PSUs. They have urged the government to cease the practice of contract employment and outsourcing. Emphasising the need for equitable resource mobilisation, the unions suggested increasing corporate tax and wealth tax, as well as introducing an inheritance tax. They argued that this approach would be more effective and just than placing a heavier burden on the common masses through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on essential food items and medicine.

“Over the decades, corporate tax rates have been slashed unjustly and at the same time increasing indirect tax burden on common people resulted in an utterly regressive tax structure. That must be corrected in the interests of fairness, equity and propriety. Even one per cent inheritance tax on the super-rich with the ceiling can fetch huge amount to the budget receipts,” it said.

BMS submits separate memorandum for its demands

Representatives from 12 trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC and UTUC attended the meeting. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) submitted a memorandum with its demand separately. Some of its demands are the scope of MGNREGA should be broadened with the provision for a guaranteed 200 days of work for each family. Besides, agriculture and allied sectors works should be linked to MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). It also demanded providing health benefits to all persons above 60 years of age. It can be made contributory with a token amount of Rs 100 per month and coverage of Rs 5 lakh annually. Moreover, Ayushman Bharat Scheme criteria should be extended from Rs 1.20 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, it said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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