The NDA Government at Delhi is bent upon to implement various anti-people and anti-worker policies. The workers of this country and their trade unions are opposing these retrograde policies of the Government in one voice. However it is unfortunate that Government is not prepared to listen to the voice of the toiling masses. Some of such policies being implemented by the Government which is going to have far reaching implications on the economy and sovereignty of our country are as follows:-
1. Privatisation of all Industrial, economical activities only to benefit the corporates and crony capitalists.
2. Privatisation of the defence sector by issuing more than 450 Licenses to manufacture defence equipments by private sector.
3. 100% FDI in defence, 76% FDI in Insurance and other sector.
4. Corporatisation of the most strategic defence industry the Indian Ordnance Factories.
5. GOCO model in Army Base Workshop
6. Privatisation of all Nationalised Banks, Insurance Corporations and LIC.
7. Corporatisation and Privatisation of Indian Railways.
8. To finish BSNL and MTNL to benefit private players.
9. To sell all Public Sector Enterprises.
10. To handover Agriculture and Farming to Corporates.
11. No guaranteed Pension for the Government Employees.
12. To eliminate social justice of reservation in Public/Government Jobs through Privatisation and closure of Government departments.
13. Abolition of posts and artificial ban on recruitment in central government.
Government is selling the public sector along with its lands without any valid reason. The finance minister says that through Privatisation the government will generate money for its expenditure. The government instead of fully utilising the capacities available in government and public sector Industry to generate employment is selling out the National Assets on the plea to generate revenue. The Government is not prepared to tax the private corporate to generate revenue required for developmental work. The rich is becoming richer and the poor is becoming poorer. There is no control on the price rise of essential commodities. Petrol, Diesel and LPG price increase has become a daily affair.
Now comes another major anti-worker decision taken by Government to merge 44 Labours Laws into 4 Labour codes. All these 44 Labour Laws are achieved by the Indian working class through decades of working class struggle. The Indian Trade Union Act 1926 was passed by the British Parliament after lot of struggle and sacrifice by the Indian Working Class. Overlooking the objections raised by the Central Trade Unions like AITUC, HMS, CITU etc., and Independent Federations like AIDEF, the NDA government passed these Labour Codes when the entire opposition was boycotting the monsoon session of the Parliament. The government has brushed away the process of tripartite consultation norms framed by ILO and pushed through all these bills in a hasty manner and without any transparency. All the Industrial Houses welcomed the Anti- Labour Codes with red carpet. Indian Industries was always demanding for legalising “Hire and Fire”. Now the government has incorporated it in the new code by introducing “ Fixed Term Employment ”. In violation of the historical Supreme Court Judgement the definition of “ Industry ”., the DRDO Labs, the Atomic Energy Establishments and ISRO are exempted from the definition of “ Industry ”. The Power of Labour Inspector has been completely diluted. The Code also gives a fillip to engage Contract Labour by granting an All India License for 5 years to a Contractor hiring such Contract Labour.
It will be very difficult for the workers to organise Trade Unions but it will be very easy for the employer to “Hire and Fire”. Women workers are the most affected. The OSH Code provides for deploying women workers to all kind of work, including mining before 6 a.m. and beyond 7 p.m. with their consent. However the Code does not lay down the safeguards that the employers have to provide before deploying the women to work at Night Shift. There is no provision to impose harsh penalties for violation of the Codes. In our country majority of the women is not working according to their choice. It is a matter of survival for them. On the one side the code prohibits the employment of persons under 18 years of age in mines and on the other sick, it permits the hiring of persons above 16 years to work as apprentice. By giving a paltry stipend apprentices can be exploited.
The OSH Code says that Safety Committees should be set up in establishments employing more than 250 workers. If this is implemented then more than 90% of the units will be out from the ambit of such Committees. In our country almost 50,000 workers die due to accidents in work place.
The IR Code tinkers with the definition of “Worker”. A person is not termed as “Worker” if he/she is employed in a supervisory capacity and earns over Rs. 18,000/- a month. The worst part in the IR Code is that the amendment which has increased the threshold from 100 workers to 300 workers for taking Government permission before termination, layoff or retrenchment. Similarly it attacks right of workers to go on Strike. Several conditions have been imposed in the New Labour Code. Union with only 51% membership will be recognised. This is not in conformity with ILO norms and convention on collective bargaining and against Industrial democracy.
There are many such Anti-Labour provision in the New Labour Codes. Whether it is Farm Bill or Labour Codes all were pushed through Parliament without any debate. The ruling party’s MPs may praise the Prime Minister for this. However the Working Class of the country have rejected these Procorporate Labour Codes. The advisors of the PM are only interested in the so called “Ease of Doing Business” and they are least bothered about well being of the Labour. The PM should not forget that he has come to power not because of Vote casted by business houses, but because of Vote casted to him by poor farmers, agriculture workers and the working people of the country. When the PM and his government doesn’t listen to voices of the workers then they have to fight back and that is why the workers of the entire country will burn the Labour Codes and tear-up the Labour Codes on 1st April 2021. A right decision taken by Trade Unions. Let the flame of struggle opens the eyes and sense of the Government.
Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary. AIDEF and Convenor of PSU Union of AITUC