BMS: Labour law dilution being ‘reversed’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 28, 2020

‘These expose the blunder of the ordinance route adopted by States and it is time to withdraw them’

After upping the ante against the Centre and State governments over dilution of labour laws, BMS, the RSS-affiliated trade union seems to have recalibrated its stand against the ruling BJP. Although it still plans to approach opposition MPs, including former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, with a five-point charter against the Government’s “anti-labour” policies, it maintained that some “corrective measures” have been initiated by the Centre and a reversal of the trend to demolish labour laws seems to have started.

A BMS statement on Thursday said as opposed to earlier regimes that favoured big businesses, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given thrust to labour, farmers and small scale industries in the economic package that was announced in five tranches.

“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman during her declarations on the financial package categorically said the government will not take the ordinance route for a change in labour laws; which is a clear reply to the four States that took ordinance route to change labour law. Rajeev Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog also had expressed the view of NITI Aayog that ‘reforms do not mean complete abolition of labour laws’,” BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said in the official statement.

He also referred to Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar’s recent statement that labour reforms in India will be based on settled national and international positions. “All these expose the blunder of the ordinance route adopted by four States and a clear direction that it is time to withdraw the ordinances,” he said.

‘Trend reversal’

Upadhyay said it seems that a reversal of the trend that started with Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat bringing ordinances to suspend labour laws is now apparent.

“…The trend of increasing working hours from eight hours to twelve hours was started by Rajasthan government and adopted by nearly 15 State governments. Now a reverse trend of correcting this mistake has started with first UP and then Rajasthan Government reverting to eight working hours. BMS demands that other State governments also to follow it,” he said.

However, the BMS national president CK Saji Narayanan underlined that the Centre’s “change in stand” was a result of the pressure put by the BMS. “We have announced an action plan based on five points. It will be continued until the State Governments withdraw the amendments, Ordinances and orders against the interests of workers. The Centre has voiced its stand against such Ordinances and it is a welcome step,” he said.

At a recent meeting of BMS national office bearers, state general secretaries and federation general secretaries chaired by Saji Narayanan, it was decided to approach all Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs on five issues including migrants’ plight, huge job losses, denial of wages, unilateral suspension of labour laws and increase of working time to 12 hours and unbridled privatisation.

Published on May 28, 2020

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