A discussion on the working of the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Rajya Sabha Wednesday saw the Opposition lashing out at the central government over the rising unemployment and job losses, and accused it of framing policies to help corporates harming the interests of the working class.
During the debate, which took place a day after several central trade unions, barring the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), organized a two-day nationwide shutdown, several Opposition members slammed the government for not holding the Indian Labour Conference, the apex level tripartite consultative committee in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, since 2015. They argued the government had not consulted trade unions while finalizing the four labour codes.
Congress MP Digvijaya Singh said even the BMS is opposing the labour codes saying there were no proper consultations. “This government has abandoned its old friends…people of that old ideology…and is moving on a corporate path. Now, there is a corporate Sangh within the BJP which is working for the corporate sector,” he said.
“I do not know why this government is afraid of the trade unions and does not wish to discuss any matter with them. From 1940, tripartite meetings were being held regularly in the Indian Labour Conference. Many decisions were taken and they have become law after being passed by Parliament. All the 44 labour laws have come that way. Now, that process has stopped. For the finalization of labour codes, and, also, subsequently, for the publication of rules, the Union Government had not consulted the trade unions,” said DMK’s M Shanmugam.
Singh pointed out that the trade unions are demanding to scrap the labour codes, halt the privatisation and disinvestment drive, and steps to contain price rise.
He also demanded that the skill development ministry be merged with the labour ministry. He also raised the issue of not completing the general verification of trade unions which is pending since 2014.
BJP member Prakash Javadekar said reskilling and upskilling are necessary during this time. “We need to learn new things to remain relevant. People are going for upskilling after working for ten years. In politics also, we have to learn new skills otherwise people are after us. We need to understand this,” he said.
Rejecting the Opposition charge that unemployment was on the rise, Javadekar said economic growth creates jobs itself.
CPM’s Elamaram Kareem, too, accused the government of favouring corporates. “You are implementing a policy designed by the corporates and international capitalists. It is being implemented here. In the name of ease of doing business, you are pushing the workforce of this country to the margin,” he said.