Labour codes are anti-worker, feel major trade unions

Business Line, August 02, 2019

As the Rajya Sabha passed the Code on Wages, 12 Central Trade Unions, except the BMS, held protest across the country demanding the Centre to withdraw the proposed Labour Codes.

Terming the four proposed codes anti-labour, the trade unions alleged that the Bills are being passed without any tripartite negotiations with trade unions, chambers of commerce and the governments. At a demonstration here, trade union leaders said the two codes, which are in Parliament now, will ‘drastically curtail’ workers’ rights.

They said the bills are an attack on the interests of the workers. “Central Labour Minister has brushed aside the Indian Labour Conference formula on calculation of wages and the Supreme Court’s decision to add 25 per cent to it (which was unanimously accepted by the 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conferences). He announced the minimum wages at ₹4,628 per month or ₹178 per day, even when the Seventh Pay Commission had recommended minimum wages of ₹18,000 per month in January 2016,” a statement from the trade unions said.

The leaders also said that the code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions be applicable only for workplaces with 10 or more workers.

“Ninety per cent workers who work in the unorganised sector, on contracts or in home-based production, will get no rights in this legislation,” they said.

Expressing concern that the existing 13 labour laws will be subsumed in the two codes, the trade unions said: “Passed between 1948 to 1996, these laws regulated the working conditions in sales promotion, mines, bidi, construction, journalists and newspaper employees, migrant workers, and contract workers.

“These laws were a result of the prolonged struggle of the workers of these sectors and they gave emphasis to the specificities of various sectors,” they added.

They alleged that there is a conspiracy to take away the right to work for eight hours and give the power to the State governments and the Centre to set working hours.

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