ILO seeks govt’s position on complaints against EDSA

New Delhi | Updated on August 28, 2021

TUs says principles of tripartite reconciliation breached

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has started its proceedings in a case against India on the complaints by Left wing Central Trade Unions CITU and AITUC that the Essential Defence Services Ordinance and the Act that replaced the Ordinance is an infringement of trade union rights in India. The trade unions complained that the Centre breached all principles of tripartite reconciliation steps by banning the strike in Ordnance Factory Board, where workers had served indefinite strike notices against corporatisation of the OFB.

Accepting the separate complaints by both the organisations, the ILO said in a letter to general secretaries of CITU and AITUC, Tapan Sen and Amarjeet Kaur, that it has sought the Government’s observations on the complaints against EDSA. ILO’s Freedom of Association Branch chief Karen Curtis said in separate letters to Sen and Kaur that the ILO needs additional information on the matter to take the matter forward.

The Governing Body’s Committee on Freedom of Association will examine the complaints even if the Government’s observations have not been received after a reasonable period of time. Curtis said in the letter that in the Governing Body’s 393rd Report’s paragraph 17, the Committee on Freedom of Association approved a number of measures concerning the functioning of the procedure provided for the examination of complaints.

“These measures include arrangements for optional voluntary conciliation at the national level. The use of these new procedures would require the agreement of your organisation, as the complainant, in addition to that of your Government. If voluntary conciliation were undertaken, this would result in a temporary suspension, for a maximum period of six months, of the examination of the merits of the complaint,” Curtis said.

Criteria for admissibility

The criteria for the admissibility of the complaints, according to the 393rd report, include the time elapsed since the alleged matters occurred, the treatment and follow-up of the matter at national level (ongoing consideration by independent bodies), insufficient evidence or support of the freedom of association violation alleged and its consideration at international level or absence of a link to freedom of association or collective bargaining.

CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said in the complaint that the Centre has been actively moving to privatise defence production. “And in that direction, the 41 Ordnance Factories which have been functioning under Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) directly controlled and owned by Department of Defence Production, Government of India are being sought to be corporatised in seven entities, registered as seven separate companies under Companies Act to pave the way for and facilitate their privatisation process,” he said in the complaint.

An official in the Labour Ministry said the EDSA has been brought after wide consultations and it does not flout any of the ILO treaties in which India is also a signatory.

Published on August 28, 2021

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