The Central Trade Unions of India called for a pan-India protest on September 23 to denounce the anti-workers policies that could allegedly strengthen and enhance the contract system.
As per an announcement by the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Trade Unions such as AICCTU, IFTU, NTUI, TUCI among others intend to organise huge protests to make the following demands:
· Withdrawal of anti-worker labour codes from Parliament.
· A fair minimum wage for all workers.
· Cash transfer of Rs 10,000 to those pushed out of work or unable to work due to Covid-19.
· Payment of full wages sans cuts to all workers during lockdown period.
· Stoppage to the contract labour system in all work of a permanent nature.
· Allotment of at least 5 percent GDP for public health.
· Provision of Rs. 50 lakhs insurance for each worker working during this period.
· Full payment of PF to all workers.
· Pay full DA to all workers and pensioners including government employees.
The Unions claimed that the government is trying to push through the Industrial Relations Code, the Code on Social Security and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions virtually without debate. It raises the concern that employers will have the facility to hire and fire workers under the name of fixed term contracts. Additionally, the right to unionise will be severely curtailed and many other rights of workers will come under fire.
During Covid-19, many BJP-ruled states have introduced anti-worker measures including 12 hours daily work without overtime and suspension of workers’ rights. Moreover, prior to the lockdown the government had tried to attack the working class by making anti-worker changes in labour laws.
The Unions were also concerned about the privatisation process of the public sector. Oil companies, Ordnance factories, Sections of Indian Railways and Air India are being privatised while public sector banks and insurance companies are being restructured through mergers for privatisation.
“This will not only affect the rights of the workers involved but will also put the security of the nation – including in an economic sense – into jeopardy. All this is happening as the peasantry is being attacked through the three ordinances that Lok Sabha has now passed. We salute the powerful peasant struggle against the anti-farmer, anti-national laws and join them in solidarity,” they said.
In a separate statement, the Unions also declared their support for the countrywide protest and resistance on September 25 against the three agriculture legislations. They said the Ordinance-initiated Bills are aimed at completely restructuring the management of the agricultural economy including farm trade in total favour of the big-landlord corporate nexus.
“Two of these destructive ordinances have already been converted into laws in the ongoing Parliament session. They are patently unconstitutional as they encroach upon State subject, destroying federalism in the process. Hence defiance and resistance with a determination not to allow these destructive measures to be implemented in our agricultural economy is the only way before the people,” they said.
The Unions also alleged that the Centre is pushing its Hindutva agenda, widening the rift between Hindus and Muslims and creating a toxic environment for exploitation of Dalits, Adivasis and other historically discriminated communities.
“The recently announced New Education policy reflects this. So does the laying of the foundation stone for the Ram temple at Ayodhya by the Prime Minister in the beginning of August and the persisting attack against the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir,” they said.
Lastly, they criticised the government for making a mess of the economy. India’s GDP fell by almost 24 percent from April to June, the largest fall by any country in the world and most adversely affected marginalised sections. Moreover, the rate of unemployment was highest in the last 45 years even before the lockdown. 1.89 crores jobs have been lost between April and August-end.
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