3-minute slot, a “Cheap Joke”: Ten trade unions boycott pre-budget meeting

In a letter to Sitharaman on November 25, the unions had threatened to boycott the meeting after FM allotted three minutes each to present their views.

Pre Budget 2023

The union finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman chaired her 7th pre-Budget 2023 consultation with the stakeholders of labour organisations virtually, in New Delhi, on November 28, 2022.

The pre-budget meeting was attended by several ministers of concerned departments and leaders of different trade unions.

Shockingly, ten major trade unions of the country, including the AITUC, INTUC, CITU, HMS, LPF, SEWA and AIUTUC among others, boycotted their pre-budget consultations with Sitharaman, citing a lack of proper time given to them to put forth their demands before the Centre.

In a letter to Sitharaman on November 25, the unions had threatened to boycott the meeting after the Finance Ministry allotted them three minutes each to put across their views before the Minister.

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They had termed the time slot of three minutes allotted for each union to forth their budget demands as a “cheap joke”. The unions had also sought a physical meeting with the finance minister in order to discuss their various demands in detail.

The Ministry had arranged for a meeting via video conferencing.

An INTUC leader said that the 10 unions boycotted today’s meeting and that the Finance Ministry had called them to assure them that they would be informed about a fresh time slot for a meeting with Sitharaman at a later date.

The 10 unions have also sought an increased budget allocation for MGNREGA and giving workers under the scheme’s ambit the status of government employees and paying them minimum wages.

They have also asked the Minister to increase taxes on corporates and introduce a wealth tax. Meanwhile, Sitharaman met RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and representatives of industry bodies like FICCI and CII, as well as the CEO of the National Skill Development Council among others, to hold pre-budget consultations on Monday.