Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws: Item No. 3 – Explanatory Notes – Charter of Demands – All India Strike 2nd Sep, 2015

Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws:  Item No. 3 – Explanatory Notes – Charter of Demands – All India Strike 2nd Sep,

Item No.3 Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception
or exemption and stringent punitive measure for violation for labour laws.
Against Labour Law Amendments

(viii) No labour reforms which are inimical to the interest of the workers

The present NDA Government completed one year in office in May, 2015.. The
widening gap between the precept and practice and the unkept promises made
during electioneering are looming large. The working class in the country,
especially in the organised sector did not have any illusion either at the time
of the general election or thereafter of the direction in which the economy of
the country would be driven by the BJP led Government, given its ideological and
political right wing attitude.
Almost every decision this Government has taken after its assumption of office
was to facilitate the pursuance of the neo-liberal policies; to ensure that a
corporate friendly climate pervades in the country so as to attract the foreign
investment. The Corporates wanted maximisation of profit; to ensure that the
labour welfare legislations in the country are either taken out of the statute
book or not enforced; they must not be accountable for disaster of the
environment or even for the loss of life due to callous managerial attitude.
One must look at the two enactments proposed by the Government in the Parliament
from the above perspective. The Land acquisition Act of 1894 was no doubt
draconian. It had empowered the Federal and provincial Governments to forcefully
acquire land in (an undefined) public interest. There were sensible up-surgence
in the country whenever or wherever the Government attempts to acquire land from
the kisans, as such acts, howsoever justifiable it may be, often divested the
farmer of his livelihood and driven him and his family to penury. Taking note of
this genuine concern and the growing discontent over an unjustifiable enactment
made by the colonial rulers, the UPA Government was compelled to bring in a
legislation primarily meant to protect the interest of the farmers, called the
right to fair compensation, transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and
resettlement Act, 2013. It is not anybody’s contention that the said enactment
of 2013 was flawless but certainly was a significant step in the direction of
protecting the interest of farmers. Various provisions of the said enactment
came in for severe criticism in the corporate controlled media, by the so called
right wing intellectuals, who were the loudest proponents of the economic
reforms. BJP was in opposition and had a sizeable presence both in the Lok Sabha
and Rajya Sabha then. It is with their open support, the enactment could be made
by the UPA Government. Being now in the Government, they want the very
provisions of those enactments, which they have voted to make it a law, to go,
not to ensure the interest of the common people or farmers, but the Corporate
houses. Had they enjoyed majority in Rajya Sabha, the enactment would have
entered our statute book today. The united opposition in Rajya Sabha ensured the
defeat of their first attempt in the matter paving way for promulgation of an
ordinance. The ordinance could not be validated in the floor of the Parliament
and got ultimately lapsed. The consent of the land owner, which has been made a
pre-requisite in the 2013 Act is sought to be removed, if such acquisition is
for industrial corridor or infra structure projects in PPP. This apart, the
protection enunciated in 2013 Act, against acquisition of multi-cropped
irrigated land and the provisions of return of unused land within 5 years are
done away with or weakened in the proposal mooted by the Modi Government. The
proposed amendment also empowers the government to acquire land one kilometre on
both sides of a designated highway or Railway line.
Both inside and outside the Parliament, the voice of people who resented the
anti-farmer attitude of the BJP Government resonated and the Govt. was forced to
refer its proposal to a Parliamentary Committee. We know in the days to come, it
will become a law as has happened in the case of many such bills introduced by
the former UPA and NDA Governments.
Many of the labour welfare legislations that exist in our Statute book were the
product of bitter and militant struggles waged by the Indian working Class both
in the pre and post independent days. Innumerable articles had appeared in
Indian Press in the post 1991 period to exaggerate its negative impact on the
industrialization and growth of economy. The Corporates which have now become
the surrogate Governments throughout the world had been successful in
dismantling these enactments in very many countries. They are aware that
maximization of profit is possible only through exploitation of workers. No
other ingredient in the cost of production is capable of giving the impetus to
reduce the price of the product in the market. They have therefore, made it
clear to the present Government in power that the location of the establishment
of TNCs and their production centres would largely depend upon this single
significant factor. The BJP Government in Rajasthan, which enjoys a brute
majority in the State Assembly, was the pioneers in ‘reforming’ the labour laws.
The Rajasthan Government made drastic amendments to Factories Act, Industrial
disputes Act, Contract Labour Act, and the States of A.P and Madhya Pradesh
followed. Maharashtra and Haryana have declared that they intend to so very
soon. These amendments provide the unfettered right to the employers to hire and
fire and will take away almost 70% of the workers in the country out of the
purview of many labour welfare Acts. The “Small Industries bill” introduced,
purportedly to help the small entrepreneurs (who employ less than 40 workers)
will take these establishments out of the ambit of 14 Labour laws. Besides, all
social security benefits, which are presently mandatory, viz. Employees’
Provident Fund, Employee Pension Scheme, Employees State Insurance etc. will be
denied to the workers of these so called “small establishments.” The advisory
issued by the Government of India to the State Governments may not be mandatory
but we are witness to the demeaning situation of these elected Governments
kneeling before the giant corporations offering them various concessions.
It is worth noting some of the significant factors that arose as an off shoot of
the pursuance of the liberalization policies and the adverse impact on the
livelihood of the workers as a sequel to the changes sought to be made to the
existing labour statute.
(a) As per the official report, more than 19% of the 13.70 lakh registered
companies in the country have closed down by the end of December, 2014. 56008 of
the 2.79 lakhs registered companies in Maharashtra, 41629 out of 1.78 lakh in
West Bengal and 41458 out of 2.57 lakh in Delhi downed their shutters. Most of
the closure had been illegal. These include TNCs like Maruti Suzuki, Nokia,
Foxconn, Jessop, Hind Motors, several jute mills and tea gardens.
(b) The share of wages in industrial sector have been continuously declining
from around 30% in 1982-83 to 12.9% in 2012-13 while the share of profits
increased from 20% to 50% during the same period.
(c) Labour productivity in India measured in terms of GDP per person employed is
around Rs. 2000 per day. Compare this with the average minimum wage per day to
know the extent of exploitation.
(d) 90% of disputes between the employers and workers relate to only
implementation of labour laws,
(e) As per the amended provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act in Rajasthan,
the employers have the power to retrench the worker without prior permission
from the Government in all establishments employing upto 300 workers.
(f) The amendment to Factories Act has increased the threshold limit of
employment for the factories operating without power from 20 to 40; those
operating with power from 10 to 20
(g) All contractors employing less than 50 workers have been removed from the
purview of the Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act.
As a result of these amendments, 7252 factories employing less than 300 workers
out of total 7622 factories in Rajasthan come under the hire and fire regime.
Two lakh contract workers have been taken out of the ambit of the coverage of
labour laws.
(h) As per the annual survey of industries 2011-12 (published in 2014) 125301
factories or 71.31% of the total 175710 factories in the country employ less
than 50 workers. All these factories would go out of the coverage of Factories
(i) Govt. of India has proposed to bundle up 44 labour laws into 5 labour codes
under the pretext of rationalization and simplification.
(j) The draconian provision in the Labour code stipulates deduction of 8 days
salary for the one day strike, if the strike is illegal and no strike can ever
be legal.
(k) The Unions are prohibited in scrutinizing the Balance sheet of the company
as the employers now need not disclose the requisite information.
(l) As per the existing laws one third of the leaders of a Union can be
outsiders. This is being changed to stipulate that no outsider will be the
leader of the Union.
(m) Six weeks’ notice is now needed to go on strike. Conciliation is deemed to
have started from the date of serving of notice. Till a final decision is given
by the Chief Labour commissioner, no strike can be organized.
(n) Fine ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 can be imposed on those who go one
It is a two pronged attack to subjugate the peasants and the workers; we must
know that history is beset with many such attempts in the past, the perpetrators
meeting their waterloo at the end of the battle. A resurgent working class is
emerging and will register their ultimate victory in the company of the
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