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Rediff.com  » Business » India's unions are upset with the Modi Sarkar

India's unions are upset with the Modi Sarkar

October 09, 2018 14:28 IST

The unions term the introduction of fixed-term employment as a 'modern labour slavery system' introduced through the 'back door'.

A scene from a labour agitation

Ten central trade unions have declared a two-day nationwide strike on January 8-9, protesting against job losses caused by the Centre's policies leading to an economic downturn and violations of the labour law.

The strike call was given by unions at the National Convention of Workers.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh will not participate in the strike.

"Most of the issues raised by unions from time-to-time are related to enforcement of existing labour laws. Trade unions should focus on pressurising enforcement agencies, mostly the state government, as labour is a concurrent subject, instead of diverting and politicising the issue," says BMS General Secretary Virjesh Upadhyay.

The BMS, Upadhyay adds, will not compete with other unions in terms of calling its own strike and said it has been protesting on various forums.

 

The unions registered their protest against price rise, divestment of public sector units, job losses caused by demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax, economic downturn and labour law violations, among others.

The unions opposed the Centre's move to introduce fixed-term employment for all industries and demanded scrapping of the contract worker system for work that is perennial in nature.

The unions will hold state-level, district-level and industry-level joint conventions during October and November.

These will be followed by the submission of the strike notice, jointly with demonstrations, between December 17 and 22.

'The Centre not only refused to respond to the just and genuine demands of the organised agitation of the working class, but has been increasing its aggression against the rights of workers, employees and trade unions,' the four-page declaration signed by the 10 unions said.

These unions include the Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress and Left-affiliated unions such as the All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre among others.

The bank employees' union, under the banner of United Forum of Bank Unions, will also join the strike on January 8 and 9, said C H Venkatachalam, association general secretary, All India Bank Employees.

Defence sector workers have called for a separate strike from January 23-25 against privatisation of the defence sector, and the National Pension System under implementation since 2006.

The National Convention also condemned the Centre's move to deprive INTUC from all representations in the tripartite and bipartite forums and committee meetings.

The Centre had barred INTUC from attending such meetings after two factions within the union had claimed to be leading it.

The unions termed the introduction of fixed-term employment, a form of contract system with fixed-term tenure for workers, as a 'modern labour slavery system' introduced through the 'back door' via a notification.

'The estimates by independent surveys and those sponsored by employers' organisations revealed loss of 70 lakh (7 million) jobs with closure of 234,000 small factory units in the first few months of demonetisation,' the declaration said, adding 60 million people lost their jobs in the informal sector.

The unions also registered their protest against the merger of Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, saying the government should fix problems of non-performing assets and corporate defaults instead of going ahead with this move.

Somesh Jha
Source: