Congress says its 'shramik nyay' will dispel 'anyay kaal' darkness

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge says the growth rate of real wages was less than 1% per year between 2014-15 and 2021-22

The Congress criticises the Modi govt for various injustices against workers, including declining wages and neglect of programs like MGNREGA. (labour justice) (photo: PTI)
The Congress criticises the Modi govt for various injustices against workers, including declining wages and neglect of programs like MGNREGA. (labour justice) (photo: PTI)


The Congress on Tuesday, 26 March accused the Narendra Modi government of inflicting six major injustices upon workers, including a decline in real wages and "slow death of MGNREGA", as it asserted that its guarantees under "shramik nyay" will dispel the darkness of the "anyay kaal".

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge put out on X the reasons why the Congress has brought "shramik nyay" (labour justice), saying the growth rate of real wages was less than 1 per cent per year between 2014-15 and 2021-22.

The growth rate of real wages was only 0.9 per cent for farm labourers, 0.2 per cent for construction workers and 0.3 per cent for non-agricultural workers. Real agricultural and non-agricultural rural wages grew at 8.6 per cent and 6.9 per cent per annum respectively during UPA-2 (2009-10 to 2013-14), he said.

In contrast, in the second term of the Modi government, the growth rate of real rural wages has become negative for both agriculture (- 0.6 per cent) and non-agriculture rural wages (-1 .4 per cent), Kharge said.

"By making Aadhaar-based payments mandatory in MNREGA, the Modi government snatched the 'right to work' from seven crore people in the last two years," he alleged.

Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said six major ''anyays (injustices)" were inflicted upon workers in India during the "Dus Saal Anyay Kaal (10 years of injustice)".

According to him, these were "declining real wages, anti-worker labour codes and rising contractualisation, Modi-made deindustrialisation of India, the decline in salaried jobs, increasing self-employment, slow death of MGNREGA, and apathy towards workers during COVID-19".

Ramesh claimed that inflation in the Modi era has outstripped daily wages for Indian workers. "Real" wages, or wages adjusted for inflation, have been stagnant or negative for 10 years, he said.

Even salaried workers have not been spared as according to Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data, after adjusting for inflation, salaried workers made 12 per cent less in 2022-23 than they did in 2017-18, Ramesh claimed.

"The declining real wages have a concrete impact on people's purchasing power. In 2014, an average agricultural worker in rural India could buy 3 kg of arhar dal for one day's wages. In November 2023, a day's work would buy him just 2.5 kg of arhar dal," he said.

Ramesh said Congress' 'Shramik NYAY' announcement guarantees a nationwide minimum wage of Rs 400 per day to put an end to this wage stagnation.

The Modi government's four new labour codes of 2019-20 made employment more "unstable" for all workers, he said, adding, "Workers in MSME are now at greater risk of losing their employment -- companies with up to 300 workers can freely lay off workers."

"As part of our 'Shramik NYAY' guarantees, the Congress will conduct a comprehensive review of the Modi government's anti-worker labour codes and make suitable amendments to strengthen labour rights," he said.

Ramesh alleged that the Modi era has seen an unprecedented contractualisation of work, in the private sector and PSUs. The Congress has guaranteed that it will stop contractualisation of employment in core government functions, he said.

PM Modi has initiated the premature "de-industrialisation" of India with the share of manufacturing in employment dropping from 12.6 per cent in 2011-12 to just 11.6 per cent in 2021-22, Ramesh claimed.

"Contrary to the government’s PR claims, the share of manufacturing in India’s GDP has been falling since the beginning of the Modi regime, from 15 per cent in 2014 to hit an all-time low of 13 per cent in 2022," he said.

Ramesh claimed there are fewer and fewer stable, salaried jobs in Modi's India. The prime minister has managed to reverse a decade of progress in job quality and stability under the UPA, he alleged.

The senior Congress leader further alleged that the Modi government is "killing MGNREGA" by slashing its budget, making it more difficult for workers to demand work and not increasing wages enough to keep up with inflation.

The budget allocation for MGNREGA has been slashed repeatedly over the last few years, he said, adding that in 2023-24 it was at 0.25 per cent of GDP, the lowest in its history.

He also flagged the issue of apathy towards workers during the Covid pandemic.

The Congress' 'Shramik NYAY' guarantees will dispel the darkness of the "anyay kaal (era of injustice)" for the country’s working peoples, Ramesh asserted.

The five guarantees include a national minimum wage of Rs 400 per day, which will also be the minimum for all MGNREGS workers nationally. The Congress has also guaranteed a Right to Health law that will provide universal health coverage of Rs 25 lakh, including free essential diagnostics, medicines, treatment, surgery, and rehabilitative and palliative care.

Under its 'Shehri Rozgar Guarantee', the Congress promises to bring an employment guarantee act for urban areas.

Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, party leader Sandeep Dikshit said the context behind 'Shramik Nyay' is extremely important as the "worst impact" of the Modi government has been in those areas where agricultural labourers and labourers have been working.

"The Modi government boasts that the unemployment rate in the country has reduced significantly. But they forgot to tell you one figure... According to the Modi government, if you do any work at home, it is considered employment. India is the only country in which unpaid family workers are considered employed," Dikshit said.

Today, their figure has reached 9.5 crore and through these unpaid family labour, the Modi government has reduced its unemployment figures, he alleged.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines