Calling the changes in labour laws made by states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as “draconian”, the central trade unions – barring the RSS-affiliated BMS – have decided to hold a nationwide protest on May 22. Trade unions leaders in New Delhi will also observe a day-long fast at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
The trade unions – Congress-backed INTUC, Left’s CITU and AITUC and others like HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF and UTUC – have accused the central government of taking decisions that are against the working class which is already in deep distress owing to the coronavirus lockdown.
“The trade unions, independently and unitedly, have made several representations to the Prime Minister and the Labour Minister in this regard as well as about the rampant violations of the government’s own directives/advisories in regard to payment of full wages to workers during lock down and non-termination of employment but in vain. Similarly, all the announcements made by the government in regard to ration distribution, even meager cash transfer to women and senior citizens, etc have failed at the ground level and did not reach the majority of the beneficiaries,” the unions said in a joint statement.
Referring to the changes made by the governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the unions further said the “retrograde anti-worker moves came in the second stage after eight state governments — Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab — enhanced the daily working hours from eight hours to 12 hours through executive orders in violation of the Factories Act, taking advantage of the lockdown situation.”
“These draconian measures are not only to facilitate more brutal and cruel exploitation of workers without their rights for collective bargaining, dispute over proper wages, safety at work place and guarantee of social security etc, but also to throw them in to conditions of slavery, in the interests of more profiteering despite continuing economic slowdown. Women and vulnerable sections will be more exploited in terms of forced labour,” they said.
On May 22, the unions will also send a joint representation to ILO drawing its attention to “violations” by the government of India “with regard to all the international commitments on labour standards and human rights”.
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