Workers plan nationwide strike on September 2
Central trade unions on Wednesday said they will go on one-day nationwide strike on September 2 to protest against unilateral amendments in labour laws and the governments’ indifference towards their 12-points charter of demands.
At the National Convention, they gave the call for all India general strike on September 2, 2016 under their joint declaration. Leaders of the central trade unions including INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF participated in the convention and signed the joint declaration.
However, RSS backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh did not turn up for the convention and is not part of the declaration. The unions have asked their members to organise a day- long mass Dharna/Satyagraha in state capitals and industrial centres on August 9 (Quit India Day) ahead of the Strike.
They have also decided to organise joint conventions and campaigns in June-July in states, districts and at industry level and take initiative to involve peasants, agriculture labour and mass of the people in the campaign. According to declaration, totally ignoring the united opposition of the workers, the government has been moving fast to demolish existing labour laws thereby empowering the employers with unfettered rights to “hire and fire” and stripping the workers and trade unions of all their rights and protection provided in laws.
“As follow up to the PMO’s written communication to the Chief Secretaries of States, states are bing directed to carry out Rajasthan type pro-management amendments in labour laws. The Labour Secretary has issued executive order on January 12, 2016 granting exemption to so called start-up Enterprises from inspection and application of 9 major labour laws, thereby legitimizing violations,” it said.
Unions also expressed their reservations against proposed Small Factories Bill which provides that major 14 labour laws will not apply to factories employing up to 40 workers. Similarly, they opposed that Labour Code on Wages Bill and Labour Code on Industrial Relations Bill saying that “under the cover of amalgamation, these bills seek to make registration of unions almost impossible, making retrenchment and closure almost free for the employers class.” “These bills have been put in public domain totally ignoring the trade unions thereby violating the provisions of ILO Convention 144 on tripartite consultation. All these amendments are meant to exclude 90 per cent of workforce from application of labour laws thereby allowing the employers to further squeeze and exploit the workers,” it said.
The unions also said that all rights-components in all labour laws are being demolished to impose “conditions of slavery” on the working people. Simultaneously, almost in all the states, the work-place level struggles of the workers are being “sought to be crushed through repression including intimidation and arrests by the government machinery as is being nakedly visible in Rajasthan, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat etc in recent times”, they added.
“Attack on public sector has been pushed to unprecedented height. Not merely disinvestment, the government will now go for ‘mega strategic sale’. The main target is the Maharatna CPSUs and those amongst the top profit making CPSUs including banks/insurance,” they said. They said that the anti-worker and authoritarian attitude of the government is also reflected in their refusal to implement the consensus recommendations of 43rd, 44th and 45th Indian Labour Conferences on formulation of minimum wages, same wage and benefits as regular workers for the contract workers and granting status of workers with attendant benefits to the scheme workers like anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, para-teachers etc.
The convention demanded strict implementation of labour laws and scrapping of “labour law-reforms”, halting mass scale contractorisation, minimum wages at not less than Rs 18,000 per month with indexation and universal social security benefits and pension for all. The demands also included compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
They said the government has not taken any meaningful step to curb price rise of essential necessities and to generate employment except making tall baseless claims “through sound-bites in the media”.