The fight for workers’ rights is set to reach an international forum as central trade unions attached to various political parties have decided to lodge a joint complaint with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) against the dilution of laws by BJP-ruled states.
As many as 10 trade unions have lodged a protest against the amendments in labour laws, saying the BJP ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh government had used the country’s tottering economy as an excuse to bring in an ordinance to free employers of any obligations for a period of three years.
“The changes are being made unilaterally in violation of ILO convention of tripartite discussions involving workers (through their unions), employers and the governments, and other regulations,” the unions said in a statement.
“The changes come after the decision of six state governments to increase the working hours of workers from statutory and international norm of eight hours to 12 hours per day,” the statement said, adding that they fear this could make employers freely and arbitrarily use the “hire and fire” strategy.
The labour unions in question are Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) – the trade union affiliated to the Indian National Congress – All India Trade Union Congress; Hind Mazdoor Sabha; Centre for Indian Trade Unions, the trade union wing Communist Party of India, All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre(TUCC); Self Employed Women’s Association, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), an organisation affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) – the labour wing of the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham – and United Trade Union Congress.
Calling the amendments “anti-worker and anti-people autocratic measures” unions noted, “As the mass of the working people have been subjected to inhuman sufferings owing to loss of jobs, loss of wages, eviction from residences etc reducing them to hungry non-entities in the process of 45 days lockdown, the government of the day at the Centre has pounced upon those working people only with fangs and claws to reduce them to the stature of virtual slaves”.
Saying that “taking advantage of the lockdown situation” BJP-ruled states have liberated the employers from all labour laws, the unions said, “The ILO Convention 144 in regard to tripartism has also been undermined by the governments. While seriously considering to lodge a complaint to ILO on these misdeeds of the government for gross violation of labour standards, central trade unions call upon the working class to oppose these designs of imposing slavery on the workers and employees in the interests of the employers’ class through united agitation and prepare for countrywide resistance struggle both at workplace level and at national level. ”