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Press Release: Modi-Festo is in the favour of mortgaging of the Labour rights #NaMo

Press Release

Date: 13 April 2014

BJP Modi-Festo accepts the ‘Price-Rise’ as a crucial issue and tom-toms about it but its Money-Festo neither discusses nor seeks to raise  the wages of workers and is silent about demands for ‘Living Wage’ (Real Wage) and social security for all workers. It also ignores the issue of health and safety of the workers and universalisation of the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme.

Instead it is in the favour of mortgaging of the Labour rights.

Rohit Prajapati

[email protected], 0265-2320399

Member of Radical Socialist

BJP Modi-Festo accepts the ‘Price-Rise’ as crucial issue and tom-toms about it but its Money-Festo does not discuss or seeks to raise the wages of workers and is silent about demands of workers for ‘Living Wage’ (Real Wage) and social security for all workers.

On Page 4, BJP Money-Festo declares it will “strategically develop high impact domains like Labour-Intensive manufacturing (viz. textile, footwear, electronics assembly etc.) and Tourism.” We know very well that industries are not in position to control the prices of raw material. To remain competitive in a ruthless worldwide market they generally reduce either work force (and this way, increase the work load by such means), or go in for hiring contract workers who are denied all kinds of benefits — leaves, bonus, medical insurance, Provident Fund and so on.

On page 19, while discussing the issue of child labour BJP Money-Festo states “Review, amend and strengthen the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2012 and Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).” It means they still want to study and review the law and scheme and till now they have no idea what to do about this. What a great demand for the Child Labour! They have no vision or dream of Child labour free India. The dream they have is only about Congress-free India (and if we hear the subtle murmers, a Muslim free India).

On page 19 & 20, for Senior Citizens Money-Festo states “Harness their experience in the National Interest. Devise Schemes and programs to engage the senior citizens as volunteers/part time workers in various development programmes of the government, in urban and rural areas. This will not only help in utilizing their time, but also it would be an effective utilization of their experience and may add an additional source of income for them.” The time when elders should enjoy life fully, after having toiled all their adult life, they will be asked to work again, instead. On the other hand, is this the way you deal with unemployment among youth?

This clearly means that after retirement the benefits most workers get are not enough for their survival and secondly government always wants workers without rights and underpaid workers and that is what BJP’s Money-Festo is looking for. Now a days Government which is role model for BJP is recruiting large number of employees in the name of “Sahayak” who are de-facto underpaid and do not have any social security.

On Page 22 Modi-Festo states “Review the working conditions and enhance the remuneration of Anganwadi workers.” This means there is no commitment to regularize them. They still want to study and review the law and uptill now they gave only vague assurance to the Anganwadi workers. The Anaganwadi workers are underpaid without any social security and their working conditions are pitiable.

On page 28 Money-Festo states “Put in place welfare measures for farmers above 60 years in age, small and marginal farmers and farm labours.” Why welfare measures and not the right to these farmers and agricultural labours? Why there is no concrete demand to have policy to make farming viable for the small and marginal farmers? Why there is no policy to promote organic farming? Why there is no demand about the “Living Wage” (Real Wage) and social security to the agricultural labours? The BJP is not worried about the working condition of the agricultural labours because of the use (misuse) of pesticides in the agriculture. The BJP has no policy to reduce or to eliminate the use of pesticides in agriculture as contamination of food is also a very frightening issue.

On page 29 Modi-Festo states “Take all steps: like removing red-tapism involved in approvals, to make it easy to do business, invest in  logistics infrastructure, ensure power supply and undertake labour reforms, besides other steps to create a conducive environment for investors.” The Modi-Festo states in very clear words the intention to mortgage both the environment and labour laws.

On page 31 in the section on Labour Force – The Pillar of Our Growth, the BJP’s Money-Festo states “We will ensure that the interests of labour in the unorganized sector are protected.” How and by bring which laws or policies BJP is going to protect the interests of unorganized workers is not mentioned. They have just a few vague sentences for  more than 90% of the working population of India, but 77% of them are termed as ‘working poor’ by ‘The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector’ (NCEUS) because in spite of back breaking work they do not get enough income. There is no vision to make India free from unorganized labour free. Let them commit the number of workers whom they will get into organized sector in a specific time period.

On the same page it further states “For the organized labour, we propose to encourage industry owners and labour to embrace the concept of ‘Industrial Family’. This concept in which Industry owners and labours bond as a family is guided by the principle of efficiency, skill development, and up gradation, productivity, appropriate wages and prerequisites, and security towards this end. We will:

Issue identity cards to the unorganized sector labourers, and arrangements will be made to provide them good quality health and education services. Also their skills will be upgraded through appropriate training programms.

Extend access to modern financial services to labour-including considering the option of setting up a dedicated Workers Bank.

Bring together all stakeholders to review Labour laws which are outdated, complicated and even contradictory.

Strengthen the Pension and Health Insurance safety nets for all kinds of labourers.”

The philosophy which is described in the Modi-Festo should be characterised as asking workers’ rights to be at the mercy of the industrialist. The “family” of the industries is based on the “principle of efficiency, skill development, and up gradation, productivity….” It is clear that the family is not based on the principle of ‘equity’. Are they going to make laws compelling the industries to give away shares to their employees? If no share from profit is given to the workers how it can be called a family? It states “appropriate wages” which means that wages also be at the mercy of the industrialist. In Labour departments all over India, day by day the work force is bring reduced. Workers and Unions do not find officers available in office as the posts are vacant.

The road map of the promises is missing in the Modi-Festo. Actually it remind us the comment made by the then Finance Minister of Gujarat State Mr. Vajubhai Vala while addressing a day-long pre-Vibrant Gujarat Summit seminar at Ahmedabad Management Association on ‘Industry Responsive Skill Development: The Emerging Trends in Gujarat’ on January 11, 2011 asked local industrialists not to spoil workers by giving them more than what is rightfully due to them. During Government of Gujarat’s latest “Employment Effort”, the “Swami Vivekanand Youth Employment Week” in February/March 2012 nobody had been given an ‘Appointment Letter’. What they got where given was a piece of paper called ‘Employment letter’, which is illegal.

The UNDP report of November 2013 “Humanity Divided: Confronting Inequality in Developing Countries” states in clear words “Global income inequality stands at very high levels, whereby the richest 8% of the world’s population earn half of the world’s total income, while the remaining 92% of people are left with other half.” It further states “This makes it more difficult for citizens to have a say in the decisions which impact on them and to be able to live lives they value.” The report also states “Although the world is globally richer than ever before, more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty. The richest 1% of the world population owns about 40% of the world’s assets, while the bottom half owns no more than 1%.”

It is a well-known fact that health and safety issues are ignored by industries, government, and civil society, including unions. The working conditions of the workers are in very bad shape. The Modi-Festo is completely silent on the issue of health and safety of workers. There is no discussion in the Modi-Festo about the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme. Why should ESIS not be made applicable to all? How to improve the functioning of the ESIS? It completely ignores about revising the present pension scheme for the workers in general.

Modi-Festo tom-toms about women’s issues but completely ignore the rights of the women workers. There is no mention about the implementation of all laws related to women workers, specifically “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.”

The Modi-Festo also ignores the issue of speedy justice to the workers in Labour and Industrial Courts. It also ignores the facts that labour laws are not implemented in letter and spirit. What is the plan of BJP to implement the labour laws?

BJP’s Modi-Festo is not just vague about rights of the workers and ignores the rights of workers but openly advocates the policy and philosophy which is bluntly anti-working class.

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