Industrial unrest is a matter of serious concern: Prime Minister

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister’s Speech at the Distribution of PM’s Shram Awards Following is the text of the speech of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the distribution of PM’s Shram Awards in New Delhi on 13 October 2011:

“Each year we honour some of our best workmen and workwomen with the Shram Awards. These awards recognize outstanding contributions to increasing production and productivity, enhancing efficiency and promoting innovation. They are also given to those workers who have shown courage and commitment in their work. Like in other years, the awardees of today are men and women with a distinguished record of performance whose achievements are indeed extraordinary and are a source of pride for all of us. I congratulate all the awardees and applaud their exemplary commitment and hard work. It is always a pleasure to be amidst such men and women and today is no exception.

The economic and social advancement of a nation depends to a large extent on how it develops and harnesses the capacities and capabilities of its people, particularly the youth. This would be particularly true for our country in the coming years particularly since 2008. In the last decade or so we have witnessed sustained and good economic growth, despite an adverse international climate in some years.

If we are to build on our achievements and also make our growth processes truly inclusive, we must invest adequately in our human resource capabilities. We must pay sufficient attention to skill development so that our growing youthful population is provided decent employment opportunities.

I assure you our government is deeply aware of these imperatives. We are particularly alive to the fact that India has a younger population in comparison to most other countries in the world and skill development is one of the necessary conditions for making effective use of this vast demographic dividend. Our policies of the past seven years reflect the importance we give to education and skill development.

The Eleventh Five Year Plan was especially focused on education and we intend to place special emphasis on Health in the Twelfth Plan. We have provided access to school education to every child in the country through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act. We have embarked upon a major institution building process to reverse the trend of low public investment in higher education.

The National skill Development Mission launched in the Eleventh Plan has put in place a Coordinated Action Plan for Skill Development. This lays down a solid foundation for future work in this vital area of national importance. During the Twelfth Plan, we must identify the gaps in the institutional arrangements for Skill Development and plug them effectively. We have established the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) which along with initiatives at the state level will provide the bulk of the Skill Development results, particularly in the unorganized sector.

But for this to happen, support to NSDC would have to be significantly enhanced and State Skill Development Missions in all States would have to be fully operational and effective during the Twelfth Plan.

Let me take this opportunity to affirm that our government is committed to doing everything possible to ensure good industry-labour relations.

There is a view that our labour laws are sometimes felt to be too rigid and are a constraint on our growth impulses. There is also a contrary view that the labour legislation needs to better protect the interests of workers, particularly in the unorganized and the contract labour sectors. Clearly, there are areas where there is a need to strike a balance between the needs of a growing economy and the interests of working people.

Though our Government is working on several fronts to streamline labour legislation for the welfare of workers, we are also aware that there are many areas of labour legislation that may require reform to encourage business and enterprise. We will move ahead only in those areas where a broad consensus for reform is built and will ensure that the interests of our workers are fully protected in doing so.

Our government has taken a series of steps for the benefit of our workers in the unorganized sector. The Rashtriya Swathya Bima Yojana is already benefitting about 25 million workers and we are in the process of covering more categories of workers under this ambitious scheme. A National Fund has been created to finance development schemes for the unorganized sector.

Recently we have witnessed some incidents of industrial unrest. This is a matter of serious concern to me and I believe we need to address this issue with alacrity and sincereity. Healthy worker- management relations are fundamental to industrial progress and development. Workers and management have a symbiotic relationship and both sides need to work in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, without losing sight of the overall national objective of progress.

It is the hard work and sacrifices of our workers, our farmers, our teachers and our entrepreneurs that have made India one of the fastest growing economies in the world. I believe that each one of you has an important role to play in our country’s progress. Each one of you has an important contribution to make to the processes of nation building. I would urge you to never lose sight of this fact and continue working with commitment, energy and enthusiasm in the service of the people of our country.

Let me end by once again congratulating the individuals and organizations which have won the Shram Awards for the years 2008, 2009 & 2010. I am sure that their work and achievements will be a source of inspiration to others. I wish our workmen and our industrial units all the very best in their efforts in the service of our country and our people.”

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