IFTU, Trade Union


The Narendra Modi led N.D.A. Government came to power with the promise of bringing good days for laboring people in the country. It promised better living standards, better living and working conditions. It promised creation of one crore jobs every year. But, soon after coming to power, it has launched an attack on the hard earned rights of the workers.

The corporate companies, industrial and business associations and foreign firms have been urging the governments since long to create an atmosphere wherein doing business in the country would be hassle-free. In their view the existing labour laws are obstacles to creating the needed atmosphere and therefore they need to be changed in their service and favour. What is the state of implementation of labour laws in the country, how these are circumvented by the managements and how the enforcement agency invariably acts in tandem with the managements are too familiar and need no elaboration. Even then whatever formally exists on paper in favour of the worker need to be changed to give capital full freedom to exploit the worker and that is what the World Bank has been telling the powers that be in the country for long.

Date: 11th September, 2014   Time: 11 am to 3 pm

The BJP led by Modi as the Prime Minister is now reciprocating to all that the corporate sector did to put it in the saddle of power by bringing in changes in the labour laws. Starting with the Rajasthan government that took up the task of changing the Industrial Disputes Act, Factories Act, Contract Labour(R&A)Act, in the service of the corporates, the union cabinet has approved the changes the NDA government wishes to bring.

Some of the changes in the ID Act are that establishments that engage upto 300 workers,instead of the present 100, need not seek permission of the government for retrenchment and this applies for lay-off and closure; to get the status of a representative union the required percentage of the present 15% has now been raised to 30%. The first one is to empower the managements to hire and fire the workers at will and the second will manage to circumvent the right to collective bargaining making a mockery of trade union rights.

As of now, The Factories Act is applicable to factories employing 10 or more workers, using power and 20 or more workers without using power. Now, the applicability of this Act is limited to Factories employing 20 or more workers, using power and 40 or more workers, not using power. Thus, considerable number of factories are excluded from the coverage of the Act.

Employing of women in night shifts or after 7 P.M. was banned till now. With the present amendment, the Government intends to do away this prohibition throwing to the winds the safety and health of women.The overtime limit of 50 hours per one quarter year per worker is hiked to 100 hours in the present amendment. The hazards occurring to the health and welfare of workers by virtue of this are totally ignored.

At present, the factories and establishments employing 20 or more workers, are covered under the Contract Labour (Abolition and Regulation) Act. The Govt. intends to reduce the coverage of this Act, only to the factories and establishments, employing 50 and more workers. Another important amendement that is sought to be made in this Act is to free the principal employer from his responsibility like if the contractor does not pay the wage of the worker then the principal employer becomes responsible and must pay the wage under the present Act that is sought to be removed now.

According to the amendment being proposed in the Apprentices Act, the State Government will bear the cost of apprentices engaged by establishments, employing less than 250 workers to the tune of 50% and to the establishments employing 250 or more to the tune of 25%. While this benefits the employers, the issue of absorption of the apprentices after their training is now taken off.

The central Labour Ministry hurriedly issued a memorandum on 23.6.2014, directing labour authorities not to inspect factories and establishments on their own, only in exceptional condition such as a fatal accident, or continuous lock out or strike. It is well known that regular inspections of establishments by the enforcement agency is a mere mirage and now with this change managements will enjoy unbridled freedom in the sense that unions cannot invoke the clause of seeking inspections of establishments.

These amendments are out and out anti-workers and entirely in the service of the managements. They are in fact an attack on the hard won rights of the workers over the years. The working class should not allow these to come into force and resist the attempts of central government in imposing these anti-worker changes in the labour laws. It should unite as one in a broad struggle to defeat these attempts.The National Committee of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), as part of building such a broad based resistance is holding a Convention in New Delhi on 11th September in which all the central trade unions are expected to participate to chalk out an action programme.

National Committee
Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)