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To
The Secretary to Govt of India
Ministry of Labour and Employment
Shram Shakti Bhawan
Rafi Marg, New Delhi 110001

Sub: Termination and wage cut of workers during lockdown period

Ref: Ref: My previous letters to you dated 27-3-2020, 28-3-2020, 5-4-2020 and 7-4-2020 regarding implementation of your own directive/advisory no vide DO no M-11011/08/2020 dated 20th March 2020. 

Dear Sir,

This is my fifth letter to you citing specific instances of violation of your directive/advisories dated 20th March on the “DOs & DON’TS” by the employers of both private and public sector establishments during the period of and consequent upon the lockdown for the Corona Pandemic in respect of non-termination of employment and payment of wages to the workers including contractual/casual workers.  Incidentally all the cases of such gross violations brought to your notice for action were in the establishments owned by the central govt and also those for whom central govt is the appropriate Govt.

All my previous four letters to you cited specific instances of violations of your directive/advisory by way of termination of employment of contract/casual workers in Banks in West Bengal, Border Roads Organisation and Hydro Power Project in Jammu & Kashmir, nonpayment of wages in Jute Mills and Tea Gardens in West Bengal, requesting your corrective intervention to enforce the directive/advisory issued by your office only to all concerned.

Now I draw your attention to the specific cases of wage cuts and termination of employment of workers of IT and ITES sector in Karnataka, Tamilnadu and West Bengal on the basis of information received till date:

  1. In Karnataka, in Bengaluru

Travel PD Co terminated one employee, Parallel Wireless in Bengaluru terminated 15 employees, Chumbak Design Private Ltd terminated 247 employees through forced resignation, Hula Infotainment terminated 30 employees, M/s Hem & RA T terminated 4 employees, M/s Mistefa terminated 60 employees through forced resignation,  IVT Co terminated 22 employees, M/s Flying Out terminated 90 employees and M/s Timken and M/s Classlap India Pvt Ltd invoked a 50% salary cut while not paying the March salary to all the employees yet.  

  1. In West Bengal, in Kolkata

In M/s Erevmax Technologies 80 per cent employees were sent on forced unpaid leave which tantamount to wage cut. M/s Soumak, PICON, EEMDEE Digitronics Pvt Ltd and Pace Computer Service have invoked wage cut on all the employees.

We urge upon you to please intervene for a strong corrective actionon both the cases brazen violation of your directive/advisory dated 20 March 2020.

Awaiting eagerly for your corrective interventions in all the cases of violations of your directive/advisory.

With regards,

Yours sincerely
Tapan Sen
General Secretary 

To 

The Prime Minister of India
New Delhi  

Sub: Your address to People on 3rd April 2020

Dear Prime Minister Sir,

We have been trying to draw your pointed attention to the severe problems of survival faced by the poorest sections of working people of the country, including the migrant workers following the lockdown. We have also suggested concrete urgent remedial and relief measures through our letters dated 24-3-2020 and 30-3-2020 addressed to you. All the central trade unions have also jointly represented to you on the same issues, vide letters dated 26-3-2020. The central trade unions have also written to the Union Labour Minister vide the joint letter dated 1-4-2020.

People, mainly the unorganised sector workers, migrant workers, agricultural workers and poor peasants expected that you would announce some concrete measures in your address to the nation on 3rd April. But we are sorry to state that they were totally disappointed and frustrated as you did not even acknowledge/recognise their survival issues, not to speak of announcing any ameliorative measures. The frontline health workers were highly disappointed that you were totally silent on ensuring personal protective gear and equipments for them. The country remains in the dark on the concrete measures that your government is taking to fight the Corona virus while you called upon the people to put off lights and light candles at 9.00 pm on 5th April to drive away the darkness caused by the Corona virus. We cannot but feel let down and crudely shocked at this insensitivity on the part of the highest authority in the government towards the sufferings of the poor working people of our country, who make the wheels of our country move. It is nothing but a cruel joke on the poor. We are sorry to state that your address has only conveyed the lack of seriousness on the part of your government about the serious threat posed by the Corona virus on the health of our people, the livelihood of the workers and in turn on our entire economy.

Different views are being expressed by the experts on the technical aspects of the call for countrywide switching off. The Powergrid Corporation of India Ltd has sent on 3-4-2020 itself to all its Regional Heads caution-message about possibility of grid-constraints and instability in view of your call of switching off lights on 5th April night. Federations of electricity workers and engineers also conveyed similar cautions to the Minister of Power. We request you to ascertain yourself the impact of switching off lights in all households in the country for 9 minutes, and whether that risk is worth-taking, in the interests of all concerned.  At the same time we urge upon you to please positively respond to the concrete measures demanded by the entire trade union movement to address the problems of the very survival of crores of working people including the migrant workers.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
( Tapan Sen )
General Secretary 

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions denounces Govt decision to drastically reduce the interest rates on small savings by around 140 basis points. This is a second-time reduction in interest rate on small savings within a span of less than one year, last being in June 2019. This will affect financially the mass of the populace, the superannuated, income-less several crores of senior citizens in particular who survive mainly on the meager return on their savings. It will also act as disincentive for generations of small savings of the common people through Govt-run savings instruments, which is an important source of resources for both the central and state governments for developmental work. This decision will also act in promoting the mutual funds and other speculative financial instruments being run by major big corporate, in collaboration with foreign financial agencies.

This cut in interest rates on small savings is being justified for sustaining govt revenue and contain the fiscal imbalance owing to economic slowdown and post lockdown situation which is nothing but a deceptive plea. .

The questions arise, why the has the Govt left, rather freed the ultra rich section from sharing the burden of so called fiscal-imbalance,–the so called high net-worth-individuals(HINI)-all from big corporate/business community –who have cornered more than 50 per cent of national wealth, wholly burdening the people?

It is these toiling people in industries, services and agriculture who creates wealth for the national economy, delivers resources to national exchequer shouldering the increasing and widening burden of indirect taxes and also income tax through deduction from their wages. And now they are being  fleeced further despite they being worst affected and sufferers of economic slowdown and also unavoidable lockdown phenomenon.

And the so called HINI from the big corporate/business community are favoured with tax concessions worth lakhs of crores of rupees in every budget including the latest one and yet they habitually evade their direct tax obligations after consuming all concessions, which is indirect and patronised pilferage from national exchequer. Only during 2014-2019, the unpaid direct tax accumulation from the same class has reached Rs 5.84 lakh crore as per official estimate. This very community of HINI is favoured with a rebate/waiver of more than Rs 2 lakh crore of their due bank-loans during last year.  Why should not they be charged additional tax/cess out of their huge accumulated wealth which are amassed through extraction and expropriation of the wealth created by the working people. Why should there not be stringent action of recovering from them, their unpaid accumulated direct tax dues?  

CITU denounces the brazenly anti-people discriminatory action of the Govt in slashing down the interest rate on small savings. CITU reiterates the demand of the entire trade union movement to differentially treat the interests rates on social security savings and small savings instruments from commercial interest rate, and maintain them at a higher level. CITU also demands restoration of the interest rates on all small savings.

Issued by
( Tapan Sen )
General Secretary

To

The Prime Minister of India
New Delhi

Sub: Food and Shelter for the Migrant Workers during lockdown period

Dear Prime Minister Sir,

We have earlier, on 24th March 2020, brought to your notice the serious problems of the unorganised sector workers, including migrant workers as a result of the country wide lockdown to contain the corona virus pandemic. We have urged upon you to ensure special arrangement for food, shelter and health checkups for these workers on a war footing.

Lakhs of unorganised sector workers including migrant workers have lost their income during this lock down period. It was shocking to see lakhs of migrant workers walking for hundreds of kilometres with their families to reach their native places. Many of these workers – from Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh etc- employed in various sectors were thrown out of their jobs. Having lost their income they have been starving for the last few days. Many were thrown out of their rented accommodation by the house owners. Their survival under threat, they were compelled to throw precaution to the air and come out in lakhs, defeating the very purpose of the lock down and putting at risk their own health as well as the health of their fellow citizens. In many places the police have been resorting to measures like lathi charge and booking of cases against these hapless migrants, treating them as criminals. These workers who have been playing vital role in the economy are being treated without any sensitivity for their sufferings for no fault of theirs.

This shows that,  even on the seventh day of the lockdown the directions/ advisories issued by your government have not been working on the ground. The Union Home Secretary’s DO no 40 -3/2020 – DM-I (A) dated 29th March 2020 to all Chief Secretaries of the states, as a follow up to the DO dated 24th March 2020 states that “MHA has issued another order today for strict implementation … to stop the movement of migrants and providing them with quarantine facilities, shelters, food etc and ensuring payment of wages and non eviction by their landlords... Its strict implementation need to be ensured.”

Hence we urge upon the government of India to

  • Ensure, through statutorily enforceable measures and proactive enforcement and not by just advisories, that all workers including migrant workers are not removed from their employment and are paid their wages and that they are not vacated or forced to pay rent by the house owners,
  • Ensure strict compliance in coordination with the state governments of the directions that migrant workers are provided shelter and food; nobody should go hungry
  • Ensure health checkups and medical provisions at all the camps
  • Expand testing facilities, strengthen health infrastructure by providing adequate isolation beds, quarantine wards, trained staff with proper protective gear

I request your personal and urgent intervention to ensure the above to prevent mass starvation and loss of lives in our country. With regards,

Yours sincerely,
( Tapan Sen )
General Secretary

The Prime Minister of India
New Delhi

Dear Prime Minister Sir, 

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the entire trade union movement of the country urges upon your urgent intervention in certain crucial aspects of addressing the situation in the country since Corona virus pandemic, including its prevention and containment. 

People in general are responding to the various measures so far announced by the government including the lockdowns in various states. However the government of India is yet to draw a comprehensive plan to meet the situation that is aggravating further. 

We request you to expand testing facilities and ensure availability of testing kits from all authorised sources including those approved by the National Institute of Virology with appropriate and stringent supervision. It is also necessary to strengthen the countrywide public health network by ensuring testing facilities at least in all district hospitals, provision of adequate safety equipment including masks and other protective gear for the staff and provision of isolation beds and quarantine facilities. The private hospitals should be directed to provide free medical services in terms of testing, prevention and cure. 

Large sections of workers, particularly in the unorganised sector comprising around 93% of workers in the country, will be losing their incomes in the face of the unavoidable restrictions due to shut downs. The government needs to ensure that their jobs and incomes are protected and also that they are provided with money to meet their immediate daily requirements. The MSME sector which employs large numbers of workers and which is already suffering from the economic slowdown should be supported by the government through concessional loans and moratorium on their existing loans. 

Notwithstanding the appeals made by the governments regarding protection of livelihood and earnings of the workers affected by the preventive restrictions, shutdowns and lockdowns, situation at the ground level is altogether different. The entire burden of shutdown/ lockdown and reduction of production, services and other economic activities are being sought to be transferred on the working people. This is resulting in the loss of income and livelihood for the informal workers including migrant workers, contract, casual, temporary workers in both the public and private sectors, the domestic workers, vendors. Many private enterprises have announced cut in wages, unpaid forced leave, retrenchment etc. This means starvation, deprivation and destitution for the workers putting their survival and the survival of their family members at stake. 

In such a situation, only appeal to the employers not to resort to retrenchment or not to deduct wages of their workers, will not suffice. A strong statutory as well as enforceable arrangement needs to be put in place by the Govt urgently to prevent loss of employment, livelihood and earnings of the working people. 

Hence, CITU demands that the Central Government should announce a large-scale scheme to be implemented through the states to protect the livelihoods and provide income support to the most vulnerable.

We request the government to announce statutorily enforceable measures to be directly enforced by the governments at the centre and states, without further delay. These should, inter alia, include:

  1. Protecting the livelihood and earnings of workers compelling the private business, along with the PSU management to ensure protection of jobs, earnings and social security benefits both for their regular workers as well as the contract and casual workers in the face of ongoing down-sizing and even shut-downs
  2. Ensure transfer of Rs 5000/- for the unorganized/informal sector workers aged up to 25 years and Rs 10000/- to those above 25 years on a monthly basis through their bank/jan-dhan accounts
  3. Increase in the pension for the EPS pensioners at the minimum level
  4. Also the workers directly affected by corona virus and forced to stay away from work should be granted paid leave by the employers.
  5. No wage-cut, adjustment of leave etc should be allowed for shut-down or down-sizing
  6. Free rations to informal sector workers with the huge stock of food grains at Govt-disposal
  7. Strict action against hoarders who utilise the situation leading to price rise of essential commodities including food items, medicines, sanitisers etc
  8. Separate arrangement should be made to supply mid day meal to the residence of the entitled students in view of the temporary closure of the schools. This will also save the jobs of the mid-day-meal workers besides benefiting the students.
  9. Special safety arrangement to be ensured for health-workers including the ASHAs, second ANMS and other scheme workers in the health department, anganwadi employees etc engaged in providing health and other services in different ways.
  10. Increase in remuneration of the ASHA and other scheme workers in health services on a monthly basis
  11. Strengthen public sector pharmaceutical production entities for production of raw materials, testing kits and medicines including sanitisers and other implements.

We request you to respond to the above minimum demands of the working people with the necessary urgency and on priority basis.

With regards,
Yours sincerely, 

(Tapan Sen )
General Secretary

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expressed serious concern over the Corona virus spread in the country and its severe impact on the society and on the lives and livelihood of the working people who are the most vulnerable victims of the situation.

While preventive measures being announced by the Govts from time to time and being cooperated and responded to by the people in general, the Central Govt is yet to draw a comprehensive plan to meet the gradually aggravating situation in all its facets, right from  having elaborate testing facilities with appropriate and stringent supervision covering the entire territory,  countrywide wider-public funded health care net work and also to ensuring  protection against loss of livelihood of the working people in the face of  unavoidable preventive restrictions resulting shutdowns, lay-offs, downsizing of economic activities etc jeopardizing human survival of crores of toiling people. 

In fact the neoliberal policies of the Govt directly affecting the soundness and coverage of govt-funded health care and other social services in favour of private business, has left the Govt virtually unprepared in meeting the challenge and even track comprehensively the people affected by the virus owing to very limited testing facilities compared to the size of the country as well as the population, not to speak of other elaborate preventive as well as curative interventions. Increasing dependence on import for essential pharmaceutical products/raw material is going to add to the crisis further, if not addressed through urgent remedial measure.

On the other hand, owing to scare as well as preventive restrictions, working people, both in town and villages are becoming the worst sufferers. Down-sizing and shutdowns of production, services and other economic activities  owing to restriction as well as drastic reduction of business have started  taking place and the entire burden of the same are being sought to be transferred on the working people resulting in loss of livelihoods and earnings in a big way. Informal sector workers (93 millions as per official estimate), migrant workers, casual and temporary workers, contract workers of both private and public sector are the worst affected. Already in numerous private sector entities, cut in wages, unpaid forced leave, retrenchment of the casual and contract workers started taking place. Crores of daily-wage workers in the informal sector suddenly saw their livelihood opportunities vanished.  Loss of jobs means virtual starvation, destitution and deprivation of basic health care to them putting their human survival at stake along with their dependent family members.

In such a situation the Govt must expand and augment its health care network with increased public investment and also compel the private sector health business to join the initiative to render both the preventive and curative services free.                                         

The Govt also must come out with clear cut people-oriented revival plan for the economy as a whole with increased public investment and at the same time put in place sound protection measures for the working people against loss of livelihood being fanned by the corona situation. It should not keep itself concerned over only bailing out the private financial institutions and big corporate but seriously consider protection of MSME, small retail trade and street vendors through concessional and moratorium facilities.

CITU demands that the Central Govt should announce a large-scale scheme to be implemented through the states to rescue livelihoods and provide income support to the most vulnerable.  Govts, both at the centre and the states must directly intervene without further delay

  1. to protect the livelihood and earnings compelling the private business, along with the PSU management to ensure protection of jobs, earnings and social security benefits both for their regular workers as well as the contract and casual workers in the face of ongoing down-sizing and even shut-downs
  2. Also the workers directly affected by corona virus and forced to stay away from work should be granted paid leave by the employers.
  3. No wage- cut, adjustment of leave etc should be allowed for shut-down or down-sizing of work
  4. Free rations to informal sector workers with the huge stock of food grains at  Govt-disposal
  5. Separate arrangement should be made to supply mid day meal to the residence of the entitled students in view of the temporary closure of the schools. This will also save the jobs of the mid-day-meal workers besides benefiting the students.
  6. Special safety arrangement to be ensured for health-workers engaged in serving the corona-affected or suspects
  7. Strengthen public sector pharmaceutical production entities for production of raw materials and medicines including sanitisers and other implements.

Issued by
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

Cronavirus has become pandemic one. The entire humanity is desperately battling against its catastrophic impact globally. India also has its own share of vulnerability and impact- so far two persons were reportedly died and scores were reported positive in the test, quarantining them is also going on war footing. Thus, it has heavily disturbed the normal course of daily life of the people. Many state governments have declared that the educational and other institutions would remain closed till March end and extension of this period is also uncertain. Similarly some companies and manufacturing establishments have also rescheduled their production plan. On the apprehension of its rapid spreading and as precaution, many state governments have proclaimed virtual ban on the locomotion of people from one place to other. Accordingly peoples are cancelling their travel plans.

CITU expresses its concern and solidarity with those who are experiencing the hardship with this pandemic virus and calls upon our affiliates to join the all preventive and awareness efforts wherever that are undertaken and required. In addition we are urging all the passenger aircraft companies and railway authorities to forego the cancellation charges, in the event of cancelling their travelling plan in the wake of cronavirus imminent danger. CITU urges the Central Government to take appropriate measures in this regard immediately.

Issued by:
Tapan Sen
General Secretary

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions strongly condemns the Modi government’s criminal act of steep hike of excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs.3 per litre. According to a notification issued by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, special excise duty was hiked by Rs 2 to Rs 8 per litre in case of petrol and to Rs 4 a litre in case of diesel. Additionally, road cess was raised by Re 1 per litre each on petrol and diesel to Rs 10.

With this, the total incidence of excise duty on petrol has risen to Rs 22.98 per litre and that on diesel to Rs 18.83.It may be recalled that the tax on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre and that on diesel was Rs 3.56 a litre when the Modi government took office in 2014. CITU urge the people to understand this barbarity of the present regime towards people.

As the international oil prices are falling to such an unprecedented low, the prices of petrol and diesel should have been reduced at their respective retail outlets. But this government known for its insensitivity to peoples’ suffering who are already experiencing unbearable hardship in the wake of severe economic crisis and cronavirus, has not passed the gains of global falling prices of petrol and diesel to the people. Instead they mopped up Rs.39,000 crore by this hike to off-set its fiscal deficit which has taken a heavy beating due to its pro-corporate largesse.

CITU demands that Central government should rollback the rise of excise duties and urges them to pass on all gains to the people by reducing the prices of all petroleum products accrued due to the falling international oil prices. CITU Calls upon all its affiliates to strongly protest against this heinous crime of Modi regime.

Issued by:
K.Hemalata
President

 

Thousands of women workers courted arrest throughout the country on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March being Sunday) and submitted memorandum to Prime Minister and Ministers of WCD and Labour

Centre of Indian Trade Unions congratulates the thousands of working women throughout the country who came out on the streets challenging the ruling classes and courted arrest today, 6th March 2020, under the banner of All India Coordination Committee of Working Women (CITU), as per the decision of the 16th Conference of CITU. In many states, like Tripura, Gujarat and Karnataka, the women workers dared the police and broke the barricades and courted arrest.

This massive jail bharo programme was held on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (8 March being a Sunday), which was participated by women workers from various sectors – public sector enterprises, textiles and garments, plantation, beedi, construction, brick kiln, anganwadi, ASHA, Mid day meal workers, other scheme workers from SSA, NCLP, NRLM etc, domestic workers, safai karmacharis, road transport, electricity, water supply, municipal workers, self employed women, street vendors, home based workers etc.  

The major demands are

  1. Recognise women’s work; include women’s unpaid work in the GDP
  2. Ensure equal wages for equal work for women in all sectors
  3. Implement the recommendations of 45th ILC, related to scheme workers
  4. Strict implementation of POSH Act in all work places
  5. Take effective measures to prevent violence against women; implement Justice Verma Committee recommendations
  6. Enact Act to provide 33% reservation for women in all legislative bodies at the earliest
  7. Withdraw the discriminatory, divisive and anti Constitutional CAA, and the NPR/ NRC process at once.

In Andhra Pradesh in all 13 districts, programme was held. Thousands of workers from different sectors courted arrest and also submitted memorandum on the issues. In Bihar the programme was held in 15 districts. Women workers from Anganwadi, ASHA, MDM, Beedi etc participated. In Chhattisgarh, in five districts including Rajnandgaon, Bhilai, Ballod anganwadi workers, contract workers etc courted arrest.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expresses serious concern over the cut in interest rate on Employees Provident Fund (EPF) from 8.65% to 8.5%. In the meeting of Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of EPFO held on 5th March 2020, the workers’ representatives in CBT expressed strong dissatisfaction and resentment over the same.

The Govt pleaded that earnings on investment of EPF corpus has gone down from Govt Securities and other investment instruments and the interest rate has been reduced. But more than 65% of the incremental deposits in EPF has been invested in Govt Securities. The policy of the Govt to continuously lower the interest rate on small savings including social security savings led to lower earnings/return on investment of EPFO corpus and hence the interest rate on the same.

CITU condemns such anti-worker policies of the BJP Govt at the centre. The social security savings of the workers, most of which are parked in Govt Securities are long term recurring deposits at the disposal of the Govt. The trade unions are justly demanding since long differential rate of interest on social security savings of the workers higher than the interest rate on commercial credit/deposits. But the successive governments under neoliberal regime have been continuously lowering the interests rates on social security savings of the workers and all small savings instruments in general leading to huge loss of earnings of crores of workers and superannuated persons on which they survive in their old age. Simultaneously, the same Govt is so liberal in drastically reduce the corporate tax rates and also tax rates on returns on speculative investments in stock market. Such policy of the Govt is totally discriminatory against the crores of toiling people who actually create GDP and generate revenues in the national exchequer. It is nothing but loot on crores of working people to benefit the private corporate and speculators.

CITU denounces such anti-worker and pro-corporate and pro-speculator policies of the Govt and calls upon the workers and the people to unite and fight against the neoliberal policy regime which is looting the people to benefit the private corporate and speculators, both domestic and foreign.  

Issued by
(Tapan Sen)
General Secretary 

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