Labour laws: TUs mull approaching ILO

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 11, 2020 Published on May 11, 2020

Centre has pounced upon working people with “fangs and claws” to reduce them to virtual slaves, allege unions

Opposition against States amending labour laws has gathered momentum with trade unions planning to approach International Labour Organisation (ILO). They said most of the amendments are against the ILO conventions to which India is a signatory.

The Opposition Congress has also came forward against the amendments.

A joint platform of about 10 Central Trade Unions and Federations/Associations said they denounce the blanket exemptions from employers’ obligation under all substantive labour laws for a period of three years by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to all establishments.

In a joint statement, they said these amendments are “an inhuman crime and brutality on the working people”, besides being gross violation of the Right to Freedom of Association (ILO Convention 87), Rights to Collective Bargaining( ILO Convention 98) and also the internationally accepted norm of eight-hour working day – espoused by Core conventions of ILO.

“The ILO Convention 144 in regard to Tripartism has also been undermined by the Government. While seriously considering to lodge a complaint to ILO on these misdeeds of the Government for gross violation of Labour Standards, Central Trade Unions calls 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,” the statement added.

They said the Centre has pounced upon working people only with “fangs and claws” to reduce them to the stature of virtual slaves.

“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 lost on the way due to hunger, exhaustion and accidents. Now the Government at the centre has taken the strategy of letting loose their pliant State governments to take such anti-worker and anti-people autocratic measures, many other State governments are expected to follow suit,” they said and gave a call for nationwide protests.

Congress’s former president Rahul Gandhi slammed the amendments.

He said in Twitter: “Many states are amending labour laws. We are together fighting against corona, but this cannot be an excuse to crush human rights, allow unsafe workplaces, exploit workers and suppress their voice. There cannot be any compromise on these basic principles.”

Congress general secretary Shaktisinh Gohil said the governments should have consulted trade unions before bringing out ordinances. “These labour laws such as the Industrial Disputes Act and the Minimum Wages Act exist to ensure basic protections to the those who are most vulnerable to exploitation. They flow from the Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Life and put in place basic protections to protect the poor from being overworked and underpaid. They are the surest guarantee that workers have against being turned into bonded labour,” he said and added that BJP ruled State governments of UP, Gujarat and MP did this to lure foreign investors but this cannot be done by proudly sacrificing the rights of the working class. “This is shameful and once again highlights the true nature and priorities of this Suit-Boot ki Sarkar. Factories and industrial premises will end up becoming ‘sweat shops’ and forced labour camps,” he added.

Published on May 11, 2020

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