Trade Unions to Fight Back Attempts of Draconian Changes in Labour Laws

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions in their meeting held on 14th
May 2020 took note of the critical situation for the working people in the
country during the Lock down period and decided to enhance united actions
to meet the challenge.

Taking shelter under the umbrella of COVID-19 Pandemic, every day the Govt.
is taking one or other decisions to attack the working class and common
people of the country who are already in deep distress and miseries in the
midst of lockdown in the country. The Trade Unions independently and
unitedly have made several representations to the Prime Minister and
Labour Minister in this regard as well as about the rampant violations of
the government’s own directives/advisories in regard to payment of full
wages to workers during lock down and non-termination of employment but in vain. Similarly all the announcements made by the government in regard to ration distribution, even meager cash transfer to women and senior
citizens, etc have failed at the ground level and did not reach the
majority of the beneficiaries.

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 48 days lockdown,
the Govt. of the day at the centre is aggressively moving to push the
working people into virtual slavery. In desperation the migrant workers
have been walking for several hundreds of miles on roads, on railway
tracks, through fields and jungles to reach their homes with several
precious lives having been lost on the way due to hunger, exhaustion and
accidents. But even after three spells of lockdown, all announcements of
Govt. including the latest one on 14th May 2020 did nothing for relieving
the common people and workers from the miseries they are suffering except
making tall claims and statements far away from truth, displaying cruel
insensitivity to the miseries and distress of majority of the populace.
Now the Government at the centre, in a most dubious manner, taking
advantage of prolonged lockdown period, has been targeting the rights of
the workers and the trade unions towards abrogation of labour rights. It
has taken the strategy of letting loose their pliant state governments to
take such anti-worker and anti-people autocratic measures and many other
state governments are being made to follow the same path to the detriment
of the rights and livelihood of workers. The advisories to this effect are
being sent to the state Governments from the Ministry of Labour and
Employment Government of India..

UP government has brought a draconian ordinance titled “Uttar Pradesh
Temporary Exemption for certain labour laws ordinance 2020” under the guise of facilitating economic activities. With one stroke 38 laws are made
defunct for 1000 days (almost three years) and the remaining are only
section 5 of Payment of Wages Act 1934, Construction Workers Act 1996,
Compensation Act 1993 and Bonded Labour Act 1976 which remain functional.

Those laws made defunct include Trade Union Act, Industrial Disputes Act,
Act on Occupational Safety and Health, Contract Labour Act, Interstate
Migrant Labour Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Maternity Benefit Act etc.

Madhya Pradesh Government has brought drastic changes in Factories Act,
Contract Act and Industrial Dispute Act in a manner where the employers
will be empowered to hire and fire the labour at their will; right to
dispute raising and grievance redressal will be put on ban ; the
contractors will not be required to obtain license for supplying labour
upto 49 persons and hence will function without any regulation and control;
inspection will be virtually withdrawn and the entire enforcement machinery
is put under freeze –making whatever law is in vogue and basic rights of
the workers on wages, compensation, safety etc absolutely meaningless. Not
only that, the employers were also exempted from payment of Rs 80/- per
labourer to Madhya Pradesh Labour Welfare Board. The Shop and Establishment Act is amended to let the shops function from 6 am to 12 at night that means 18 hours at a go by MP government.

Gujarat government has also taken this illegal decision of increasing
working hours from 8 to 12 hrs and also desires to go the UP government
way to suspend several laws for 1200 days. The Govts of Assam and Tripura
and several others have been actively preparing to take the same route.

This retrograde anti-worker move came in the second stage after 8 state
governments(Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Maharashtra,
Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab) have enhanced the daily working hours from
eight hours to 12 hours through executive order in violation of the
Factories Act, taking advantage of the lockdown situation.

These draconian measures are not only to facilitate more brutal and cruel
exploitation of workers without their rights for collective bargaining ,
dispute over proper wages, safety at work place and guarantee of social
security etc, but also to throw them in to conditions of slavery, in the
interests of more profiteering despite continuing economic slowdown. Women
and vulnerable sections will be more exploited in terms of forced labour.

All this means that the workers are to be used as bonded labour without
any rights for sheer exploitation in the interest of capital without any
guarantee of wages, safety and healthcare, social security and above all
human dignity only to benefit those who maximize their profits on the blood
and sweat of workers. This is against the basic tenets of human rights.

Indian working class is sought to be pushed back into British Era. The
trade union movement cannot accept such nefarious design lying down and
resolves to fight back unitedly with all their might with determination to
defeat the anti worker anti people policies, of which these are a part. We
have to mount resistance against such design of imposing slavery through
countrywide struggle in the days to come.

The CTUs note with satisfaction that already protests have been organized
jointly by the workers and trade unions against such brutal and draconian
anti-people and anti-worker measures in numerous states and industries,
reflecting the fighting mood of the working people.

In this background, to begin with, the joint platform of Central Trade
Unions has decided to observe nationwide protest day against the anti
worker and anti people onslaughts of the government *on 22nd May 2020.. *The
national level leaders of the trade unions would organize day long hunger
strike at Gandhi Samadhi, Rajghat, Delhi. Simultaneous protest actions
would be jointly organized in all the states. There will be lakhs of
petitions from the unions and members to the Govt. then onwards.The demands include, immediate relief to stranded workers for safe reaching to their homes, food to be made available to all, universal coverage of Ration
distribution, ensure wages to all of the lock down period, cash transfer to
all unorganized labour force(registered or unregistered or self employed),
withdraw DA freeze to central government employees & CPSEs and DR freeze to pensioners, stop surrendering of live sanctioned posts.

In the meanwhile the state wise and sector wise issue based ongoing
actions have to be intensified and with the determination and perspective
of heightening the united struggle to halt the retrograde policies of
trampling the hard won labour rights by the Govt through nationwide strike
action in the days to come.

The CTUs have also decided to send joint representation to ILO in regard to
the violations being committed by Govt of India in regard to all the
international commitments on labour standards and human rights.

The Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions and Federations calls upon to
make the programme of Nationwide Protest day a massive success throughout the country while maintaining the norms of physical distancing and also upholding social solidarity.


* And the Federations and Associations of various s