Union Leaders demonstrate as NPC holds its first meeting

So the National Pay Council (NPC) held its first meeting today despite union uproar. Other meetings are scheduled in the days to come. The main issue on the table is the determination of the amount of compensation for loss of purchasing power due to rising inflation.

Each year at this particular period, representatives of the government, employers and employees meet to discuss this issue. This year the inflation is forecast at 10.5%. The trade unions and opposition political parties have been claiming a full compensation at the inflationary rate. The NPC will submit its recommendations to government on 25 May 2007.

But the trade unions are unhappy with the way the NPC has been set up. See my previous post “Trade Union Outcry”. The leaders held a demonstration in front of the Government House while the meeting was on at Sir Harilall Vaghjee Hall this morning.

They are also organizing a mass meeting on 18 May 2007 to decide on the next course of action. They are making a pressing appeal to the Prime Minister to reconsider the issue to their satisfaction. They’ve already alerted the ILO as they believe government has flouted Conventions 87, 98 and 144* which provide for the freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining and tripartite consultation.

The Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations said he had invited the trade union confederations to participate in the tripartite forum. But they didn’t respond; they boycotted the NPC. That’s why he proceeded with the appointment of other individual trade union leaders. His main concern at the moment is to see to it that the issue of compensation is thrashed out before the start of the next budgetary preparations due in the month of June.

The Minister explained that the NPC’s functioning will be different from the traditional yearly forum. This new body is expected to meet normally at three months’ intervals or at other intervals depending on issues.

* Notes:
• ILO Convention 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948
• ILO Convention 98: Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949
• ILO Convention 144: Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards), 1976

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