In his speech at the 45th Indian Labour Conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about the need to improve employment conditions, a shift from his previous emphasis on labour market reforms that would allow employers more flexibility in dealing with workforce-related issues. He supported the trade unions and emphasised on inclusive growth citing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme that offered 100 days of work every year to at least one member of each rural household, and the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), or national health insurance scheme, for the needy. Last year, addressing the same gathering, Singh had said that rigidity in labour laws was hurting employment growth.
Speculations are rife that the government may concede to the demands raised by the trade unions during the two day strike in February, which included revision in minimum wages, increase the provident fund ceiling etc. The trade unions are due to meet with a cabinet sub-committee next week to discuss social security measures for employees.