This National Convention of Workers being held under the banner of joint platform of all the Central Trade Unions of the country along with independent national federations/organizations from all the sectors and service establishments expresses deep concern at the unilateral move to amend the labour laws by a number of state governments and by the Central Govt. Most of the amendments sought to be done will have serious negative impact on the working conditions including trade union rights of the workers and the employees. It is unfortunate that in spite of the assurance given by the Labour Minister that Central Trade Unions will be consulted, these amendments in labour laws are being pushed through without any consultations with them.
The amendments passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014 in Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act and Apprenticeship Act will make hire and fire much easier for the employers and will result in rampant casualisation of employment. Liberalising the provisions of Factories Act will imperil the safety at work place in small and medium scale enterprises and will push majority of factories out of its coverage. Similarly raising the threshold employment ceiling of 20 to 50 workers for registration of contractors will enable the principal employer and contractor to become unaccountable for service conditions of the workers in a large number of enterprises. It is unfortunate that the Govt. being model employer deploys the largest number of contract workers and thereby depriving them of the security of job, wage and social security benefits.
The Amendment Bills already introduced in Parliament by the Central Govt on Factories Act, Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers for certain Establishments) Act and Apprentices Act are also designed to bring about such changes which will adversely affect the service conditions of the workers throwing overwhelming majority of them out of the coverage of all basic labour laws. The Factories Act Amendment Bill introduced in Lok Sabha on 7th August 2014 further liberalises the coverage of factories under the Act as amendment proposed in definition of factories (Section 2m) authorizes States to fix number of workers for coverage under the Act. This will legitimize amendment already passed by Rajasthan Assembly on 31st July, 2014. The Central Govt. is also considering amendments in Minimum Wages Act and Industrial Disputes Act. The amendment to Apprenticeship Act will pave the way for replacement of the contract/casual/ temporary workers and even regular workers by comparatively low paid apprentices. Moreover, these amendments will straightway empower and encourage the state governments to bring about pro-employer changes in labour laws as per the Rajasthan model. The process of amendments in labour laws is also aimed to do away with tripartite consultation mechanism.
In essence, all moves of amendments in the labour laws, both by the central government and by the Govt in Rajasthan are aimed at empowering the employers to retrench/lay off workers or declare closure/shut down at will and also resort to mass scale contractorisation. These are also designed to push out more than seventy per cent of the industrial and service establishments in the country and their workers out of the purview of almost all labour laws, thereby allowing the employers a free hand to further squeeze and exploit the workers.
The Convention also expressed dismay over the Govt’s total inaction in implementing 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 those employed in various central govt schemes. It is also noted with utter dismay that the present government is also continuing to ignore the ten point demands of entire trade union movement pertaining to concrete action to be taken for containing price-rise and aggravating unemployment situation, for strict implementation of labour laws, halting mass scale unlawful contractorisation, ensuring minimum wages for all of not less than Rs 15000 per month and universal social security benefits and pension for all including the unorganized sector workers etc. the demands also include compulsory registration of Trade Unions within 45 days and ratification of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
The National Convention also denounced the retrograde move of the Govt in hiking/allowing FDI in Defence sector, Insurance, Railways and other sectors and also its aggressive move for disinvestment in PSUs including financial sector which will be detrimental to the interests of the national economy, national security as well as mass of the common people.
The Convention demands upon the Rajasthan Govt. to reverse the enacted amendments to the labour laws and urge upon the Central Govt. to desist from its unilateral move to amend labour laws and consult and honour the views of Central Trade Unions on the issue. The Convention also demands immediate steps to implement the consensus recommendations of successive Indian Labour Conferences and also positive response to long pending ten-point demands of the entire trade union movement of the country. The Convention urges the Central Govt to desist from mindless drive to liberalise FDI in defence, insurance, Railways etc and instead reverse the direction of the ongoing economic policy regime which has landed the entire national economy in distress and decline affecting the working people most.
The Convention calls upon all the trade unions, federations across the sector to widen and consolidate the unity at the grass-root level and prepare for countrywide united movement to halt and resist the brazen anti-worker and anti-people policies of the Govt and in preparation to the same undertakes unanimously the following programmes:
1. State level joint conventions during September-October; wherever possible initiative may be taken to hold district-level and industry-level joint conventions
2. National Protest Day 5.12.2014 through massive joint demonstration in all state capitals. At Delhi Joint demonstration of workers from the neighbouring states will be held.
The National Convention calls upon the trade unions and working people irrespective of affiliations to unite and make the above programme a massive success paving way for countrywide united struggle to resist the onslaught on the life and livelihood of working people throughout the country.
– BMS, INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC, LPF and All India Federations of Banks, Insurance, Defence, Railways, Central/State Govt. Employees and other Service Establishments