The Centre of Indian Trade Unions condemns the hasty move of the BJP Govt on so called labour-law reforms which are all designed to replace the existing labour laws by four labour codes, meticulously removing and/or grossly diluting all rights and provisions of protection for workers in the existing labour laws. The exercise is also aimed at pushing out a large section of workforce out of the coverage of all labour laws through increasing the threshold level of employment in establishment and repealing of a big number of labour laws meant for certain specific section of employees/workers viz., sales promotion employees, working journalists etc.

The Govt today has introduced the Code on Wages Bill 2019 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill 2019 in Lok Sabha. The contents of both the Bills totally ignored all the points of oppositions and reservations on various provisions of both the Bills curtailing the rights of the workers and prejudicial to their interests raised by all the central trade union organizations.   

Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill 2019 repealed 13 existing Labour laws viz., The Factories Act, 1948, The Mines Act 1952, The Dock Workers (Safety Health & Welfare) Act 1986, The Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act 1996, The Plantation Labour Act 1951, Contract Labour(Regulation & Abolition) Act 1970, The Inter State Migrant Workmen Act 1979, Working Journalist and Other Newspaper Employees Act 1955, Working Journalist (Fixation of Rates of Wages Act 1958, Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service ) Act 1976, The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment Act 1966 and Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers Act 1981 etc. Most of these laws were enacted to address and regulate the service conditions of different segments of workers and employees like Sales Promotion Employees, Mines, Beedi, Construction, Working Journalists and Newspaper Employees etc in accordance with and taking care of the aspects relating their respective occupation specificities and peculiarities which were different and widely varying from one another. By repealing all these Acts and selectively picking up the provisions advantageous to employers only from these Acts for incorporation of the Code Bill and grossly diluting and/or tampering all the provisions pertaining to rights and protection of the workers in general, the Govt seeks to drastically curtail the workers’ rights, in their most obedient services of their corporate masters.

Even on Health and Safety related matters, the Code has so articulated the provisions as the workers and their unions cannot assert their opinions and rights for proper enforcement or establish the accountability of the employers for violation of even the basic health and safety provisions which is a common and daily phenomenon in the workplaces across the sectors throughout the country leading to loss of lives and disabling injuries almost every day.

The Code on Wages Bill also proposed to repeal The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 while incorporating certain provisions of those Acts in the Code Bill selectively to the sole advantage of the employers and distorting and diluting almost all the rights and protection related provisions for the workers and employees. This Bill is also fraught with pushing out a major section of employees viz., Sales Promotion and Working Journalists of the coverage of the Act and left to discretion of the employers so far as wage is concerned.

The Code on Wages Bill did not incorporate the concrete formulae of Minimum Wage (based on 2700 calorie intake etc) decided unanimously by 15th Indian Labour Conference along with the Supreme Court Judgment in the Raptakkos Brett case in 1992, which was again unanimously recommended by 44th Indian Labour Conference and unanimously reiterated by 45th and 46TH Indian Labour Conference (2014) in which Govt of India was a party. It has practically placed   the minimum wage fixation (including national floor level minimum wage) under the total discretion of the Govt and the bureaucracy; although provision of tripartite  Minimum Wage Advisory Board has been kept in the Bill, provision has been so designed that  the recommendation of the Board will not be binding on the Govt. What Govt of the existing BJP brand can do with the Minimum Wage is already seen by all when the Labour Minister did  announce the floor level minimum wage at Rs 178/- per day (Rs 4628 per month) on 10-7-2019 through a press conference which is less than half of what the Expert Committee appointed by the same Govt recommended as floor level wage, not to speak of the trade unions demand for Rs 18000 per month formulated as per the formula unanimously agreed by the Indian Labour Conference in which Govt was a party. The BJP Govt under absolute captivity of the private corporate lobby could not dare to stand by even the recommendation of their own Expert Committee, comprising of  their chosen bureaucrats. To ensure the “ease of loot by the employers” this Govt can go to any extent to throw the workers and employees to sub-human living conditions.

CITU condemns such anti-worker move of the Govt and calls upon the workers and unions irrespective of affiliations to build up strong countrywide united protest and resistance to such retrograde exercise.   

(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary

Read 14578 times