Labour codes passed are anti-worker, say trade unions

The Hindu, September 23, 2020

RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh says industrial peace may be adversely hit

Central trade unions, including the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), have said the three labour codes passed by Parliament on Wednesday are anti-worker, with the BMS saying the Industrial Relations Code could “adversely affect industrial peace.”

BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay said none of the objections raised by it and other trade unions as well as the pro-worker recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour were taken on board.

“It is further tilted in favour of the employers and bureaucrats; and the last minute mutilations will adversely affect industrial peace in the country,” he said in a statement.

‘No discussion’
Mr. Upadhyay said some important changes to labour laws were made without discussion, which was a violation of the International Labour Organisation’s 144 convention ratified by India. Among the changes he mentioned was exempting companies with up to 300 workers from standing orders, increasing it from the current law of 100. This would allow companies with up to 300 workers flexibility to hire and fire.

“There is a clear attempt to diminish the role of trade unions. The danger of bureaucrats replacing Parliament is very much apparent in the IR Code, which may lead to constitutional issues. Even Supreme Court’s directions on constitutionality of some provisions are violated,” he said.

The BMS national conference from October 2 to 4 would decide on the union’s “future course of action on the anti-worker provisions in the labour codes,” he said.

Meanwhile, 10 Central trade unions — the All-India Trade Union Congress, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the All-India United Trade Union Centre, the Trade Union Coordination Committee, the Self Employed Women’s Association, the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions, the Labour Progressive Federation and the United Trade Union Congress — held protests against the codes and other labour-related policies of the government.

CITU general secretary Tapan Sen said the three codes had been taken up in Parliament in a hurry.

“These codes, now passed, will throw more than 74% of the industrial workers and 70% of industrial establishments in ‘hire and fire regime’ at the will of the employers; even formation of a trade union will be extremely difficult; will impose virtual ban on workers’ right to strike and even collectively agitate on their grievances and demands to mention a few,” he said.

He said workers’ unions and farmers would protest on September 25 against the policies of the government.

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