Trade unions are planning to launch a nationwide protest and even go on strike to protest against the NDA government’s recent moves to amend various labour laws for improving ease of doing business and boosting ‘Make in India’ programme.

The central trade unions will take a decision to launch a strong protest against the government for alleged moves to dilute labour laws during their convention on May 26.

“We (central unions) will launch a nationwide protest against government’s move to dilute labour laws and will decide to go on strike to protest against it in the convention on May 26,” BJP-backed trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh’s General Secretary Vrijesh Upadhyay told PTI.

He said: “We have written numerous letters to government and expressed our reservations against many anti-worker amendments during consultations on various bills to amend existing labour laws. But they are not mending their way.”

He also informed that the central trade unions will also discuss their 10-point agenda which includes demands like government steps to deal with issues like price rise, unemployment, universal social security cover for workers and disinvestment of public sector undertakings.

Besides BMS, the central trade unions which would participate in the convention include Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Trade Union Coordination Committee (TUCC), United Trade Union Congress (UTUC), Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) and Labour Progressive Federation (LPF).

Echoing similar views, All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev said, “The government’s desperation to please corporates is evident as they are rushing through bills like Industrial Relations Code, Small Factories and Employees’ Provident Fund in the name of ease of doing business and boosting ‘Make in India’ programme.”

Citing an example he said: “Among other labour laws, the government wants to bring new law for small factories which are employing less than 40 workers. This bill is an attempt to dilute the social security net and curtail workers’ basic rights available under the existing legal framework.”

He said that the main purpose of the Small Factories Bill is to keep 70-80 per cent workforce out of the existing labour laws which provides some rights to them.

According to Small Factories bill, units employing less than 40 workers would be out of the purview of 14 labour laws including EPF & MP Act 1951, ESI Act 1948 and Industrial Dispute Act 1947.

Similarly, they are combining three labour laws — Industrial Dispute Act, Trade Union Act and Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act 1946 — into one Industrial Relations Code.

The code proposes to make it tougher to form unions and allows retrenchment without government permission to firms employing 300 workers. Presently, firms with 100 workers have to seek permission of government before retrenchment.

Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary A D Nagpal also expressed reservations against these amendments, saying they are anti-worker.