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Centre will intervene in labour issues if TN govt’s efforts fail: Union minister

Union Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said the Centre would look at conciliatory steps on industry job losses only if the state government fails in its efforts and if the matter comes to its notice.

The minister said the Centre had written to the states asking them to take over a total of 13 ESIC (Employee State Insurance Corporation) medical college projects, in which the union government had already invested around Rs 10,400 crore.

Speaking to reporters after conducting inspection of the ESIC Medical College in Chennai, he termed the labour issue in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) as a major episode and advised the state government to look into it, as it falls under the state’s jurisdiction.

“When it comes to my notice, we will also discuss with them and we will start all conciliatory approaches to see maximum justice is done,” he said. “The MoU made by the state government is very very important. So, I have to examine all these things,” he added.

Similarly, when asked about what the government was planning on the labour issues that had emerged in the industrial area of Sriperumbudur, near here, where Nokia and Foxconn had suspended operations, he said there were several laws and the state government ultimately could also make laws.

“Whichever issue comes to the central level, I will look into them. Our chief labour commissioner is here and we will ask him to intervene,” he said. He added the government was more concerned about the interests of workers.

Speaking about the plans to hand over ESIC Medical College projects to the states, he said the labour ministry’s core focus was labour welfare and was not on running medical colleges.

He said there were 13 projects, which the Centre would like to hand over and said it had requested the state governments to respond before January 31.

The Centre had spent around Rs 10,400 crore on these hospitals so far and they require another Rs 3,000 crore for completion. These facilities require Rs 80 crore every year for maintenance. Karnataka had already indicated its interest to take over these hospitals, he added.

Of the 13 medical colleges, two are located in Tamil Nadu.

The Centre decided to decentralise the administration of ESIC hospitals, offering more power to the state executive committees, allowing them to prevail upon decisions, including enhancement of beds, construction works for up to Rs 5 crore and empanelment of super speciality hospitals.

New ESIC hospitals will be opened in Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Sriperumbudur and Tirupur, in Tamil Nadu, of which three were facing some bottlenecks. The central government will invest around Rs 70-80 crore for all these facilities, with each having 100 beds, he added.

Dattatreya said the labour ministry would soon initiate nation-wide campaign for disbursing unclaimed provident fund amounts, worth around Rs 27,000 crore.

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