Maruti Manesar-like lawless situation ahead: BMS on labour codes

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on October 05, 2020

Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar   -  THE HINDU

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

After it’s 19th national conference held online , the BJP-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) urged the Narendra Modi government to immediately withdraw the antiworker provisions in the new Labour Codes. The action programme adopted at the meeting states that the BMS will hold continuous agitation, including national level strikes, to protect the right to protest and other labour rights. Other Central Trade Unions have called for a general strike on November 26 on similar demands.

The conference, addressed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, asked the Centre to call consultation meeting with BMS and other trade unions to make the Labour Codes beneficial to both worker and industry. The resolution said the BMS intends hold nationwide “warning week” programmes on October 10-16 as a part of preparatory activities and nationwide protests on October 16. When asked about the proposal to hold strike, a BMS leader told BusinessLine that it will not coincide with the plan of other CTUs. “We will give time for the Centre to mend its ways. If they do not drop the anti labour policies, we will be forced to hold a strike,” the leader added.

A new leadership of the BMS, replacing general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay and President Saji Narayanan, will assume charge on Tuesday. It was also decided that the organisation will continue to function as a “corrective body” within the Sangh Parivar. “The biggest challenge in the organised sector in India today is that nearly 80 per cent of the labour in many industries are contract labour. They work in highly exploitative conditions.

The new Code has raised the threshold limit of contract labour law provisions up to 50 workers. Thus, majority of the contract workers in the country are losing all the existing legal protections. The law prohibiting engaging of contract labour in jobs of permanent nature is also withdrawn. Even the supreme court direction on principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ is also not incorporated,” the resolution said.

It said the threshold of standing orders law, factories law, motor transport workers law and working journalists and non-journalists’ law are raised. “Even the inter-state migrant workers, who are facing pathetic conditions, also lost coverage of law in units up to 10 or more workers. Migrant workers, contract labour, factory workers, building and other construction workers, journalists, beedi workers, domestic workers etc are badly affected by the new Codes,” the resolution said.

The biggest trade union in the country also said that the danger of bureaucrats replacing Parliament in making changes in law is too much apparent in all the new Codes. The BMS, citing the incidents in Maruti, Manesar, said the entire country is now being pushed to Maruti Manesar-like lawless situation by the provisions of the new labour codes.

“Healthy employer-employee relation is important if India needs to compete in the new world economic order. But unfortunately, India is witnessing a continuing manufacturing slowdown even before the Covid days; and when our policy advisors failed to find any effective solution to address it, as usual they turn to mutilate the labour laws as the only way out. The entire burden of our economic slowdown is cast on the shoulders of the workers who really are the builders of the nation. The so-called advisors and policy makers in Government are busy creating lawless areas in labour sector,” the resolution said and demanded that the change of law should be beneficial to both worker and industry.

Some important changes in the Code like withdrawing the coverage of standing orders in industries up to 300 workers are not even discussed in the consultation process; which will be a violation of ILO convention 144 ratified by the Indian Parliament, the resolution said. “Tripartite consultation process has become a mockery. All the rights of workers which we enjoy now are result of long struggle by Indian trade union movement and visionary statesmen in the government like Dr Ambedkar. In such sorry state of affairs now created, BMS is compelled to resort to agitations to protect the rights of workers,” it said.

Published on October 05, 2020

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