Government Should Repeal Farm Bills, Labour Codes, Corporatisation of OFB And GOCO Model in Defence

After the Supreme Court came heavily on the Government on the issue of Farmers agitation going on for the past more than 40 days, contacted C.Srikumar General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation who  is spearheading the agitation of Defence Workers against Labour Law amendments, Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories and GOCO Model in Defence. Readers may remember that he has written many articles in on the Farmers issue and Defence workers issues. To know his reaction on the Supreme Court’s criticism on the Government on the Farmers’ issue, spoke to him. His reaction is recorded here.

Supreme Court has exposed the failure of the Government of India to protect the interest of the Farmers. The Supreme Court has also questioned the sense of the responsibility of the Govt.  The Supreme Court Bench which was hearing the case said “we don’t see why there is an insistence on the implementation of the Laws. It is our intention to see if we can bring about an amicable resolution. That is why we asked why don’t you put the bill on hold. You want time for negotiation, if there is some sense of responsibility, then you will not implement the laws”.

On a request made by the Attorney General  K.K.Venugopal not to take any drastic decision  and to wait for some more time before passing orders. Referring to the plea of the AG, the CJI said “sorry to say, we have to, because you as the Union of India did not take responsibility. You were not able to solve the problem. You should have been able to solve the strike, but you did not”.

The above observation of the Supreme Court came at a time when the common man of the country has started losing the confidence on the ruling politicians, bureaucrats, legislature and Judiciary. Even the constitutional values and ethics are under risk and attack. I just want to quote what Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Architect of the constitution has said. He told “if I find the constitution being misused I shall be the first to burn it”. He also said that “however good a constitution may be, it is  sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it happens to be a bad lot”.  He fully believed the constitution failed to deliver if the keepers of it, the good people lethargic and indifferent, thinking that politics as a vocation is all scum stay away from it and the bad and the ugly in the society came to occupy the position of power.

It is not that the present government is dealing in an arrogant and inhuman manner with the farmers issues. Similar approach is seen the way in which the 4 Labour Codes was passed in the parliament without any discussion with the  major stake holders i.e. the workers and their Trade Unions. The demands made by the Central Trade Unions to repeal the 4 labour Codes and start discussions with the Unions have been outright rejected by the Government. The Government is going ahead to implement these codes by arbitrarily framing the rules on these 4 Codes. To complete the formality of consultation the Govt. has convened a meeting with the Central Trade Unions through Video Conference. The central trade unions have rejected the move of the Government and have demanded for physical meeting which was not agreed by the government.

Now let us see what is happening in the case of Corporatisation of Ordnance Factories. Based on the conciliation settlement reached in the presence of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), the government invited the Federations of the Defence Civilian Employees to discuss on the 3 Strike demands on 29/10/2020. The Federations clearly told the government that the government should repeal the decision taken to corporatize the Ordnance Factories and should discuss ways and means with the Federations to improve the performance and the functioning of the Ordnance Factories in the present government setup itself. The Secretary Department of Defence Production asked the Federations to give proposals by which the Ordnance Factories can be retained in the Government set up and to improve its functioning. The Federations accepted the challenge and within a record time of just 20 days submitted a detailed document with valid suggestions.  The government instead of accepting the suggestions given by the Federations convened a meeting on 05/01/2021 and was only countering the proposals given by the Federations with the intention of proceeding with its arbitrary decision of corporatization of Ordnance Factories. The Federations will decide the next course of action after receipt of the record of discussion of the meeting.

In a democracy while the Government has got authority to decide on various issues, but it is  equally responsible for consultations and accommodating the views of the affected people against whom the policy decisions are taken. The Indian Constitution itself has been amended more than 100 times within this span of more than 70 years. Wrong doings can always be corrected in the interest of Nation and its people. There cannot be any prestige issue  in a democratic government setup  Ultimately the people are the supreme authority in a democracy. As Abraham Lincoln has told “Democracy is  government of the people, for the people and by the people”. No leader and no political party elected by the people can ignore this.

Views expressed here are those of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation and NEC Member of AITUC 

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