Trade Unions Ask Government To Put On Hold Implementation Of Four Labour Codes
A worker pulls a loaded cart along a road in Assam, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Trade Unions Ask Government To Put On Hold Implementation Of Four Labour Codes


A joint platform of 10 central trade unions on Wednesday demanded putting on hold implementation of four labour codes and start fresh discussions in the true spirit of bipartite and tripartite consultations.

The statement was issued by the joint forum comprising ten central trade unions -- Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre, Trade Union Co-ordination Centre, Self-Employed Women's Association, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Labour Progressive Federation and United Trade Union Congress.

The platform also consists of independent federations and associations.

"The Central Trade Unions demanded that all the four codes should be put on hold and then discussions should start with the Central Trade Unions on each of the Labour Code afresh in the true spirit of bipartite and tripartite consultations," the statement said. "We do not accept this meeting as consultation but a farce to camouflage consultations," the forum said.

In a letter written to Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar, the unions also protested against not holding the Indian Labour Conference for the past five years.

The Labour Ministry is in the process of finalising rules under the labour codes for the implementation of these new laws. The ministry had called a meeting with trade unions and other stakeholders for a discussion on codes on social security and occupations safety, health and working conditions on Wednesday.

Also read: New Labour Codes: Salaries Are About To Get Bigger And Smaller... And Other Things

The ministry intends to finalise the rules under labour codes by this month end for implementation of these laws.

The three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and OSH were passed by Parliament in last Monsoon session. The Codes on Wage was passed in 2019 but its implementation was held back because the ministry wanted to enforce all codes in one go.

"The joint platform of Central Trade unions have outright rejected the move of the government to frame Rules on the Labour Codes which were passed in Parliament without any discussion with the Central Trade Unions or in Parliament when all the opposition Members of Parliament were absent as they were on boycott demanding withdrawal of expulsion of some MPs," the statement said.

"Some MPs had even given in writing to the government that the labour codes should not be placed in a hurry and that there is need for serious discussions on such an important matter with trade unions and also inside Parliament which concerns the life of more than 50 crore (500 million) workforce of the country," it said.

"But the government went ahead flouting the parliamentary norms and bypassing the tripartite consultation in violation and disregard to the international commitments on international labour standards and the ILO Conventions of which India is signatory," it said.

Also read: New Labour Codes: Three Changes That Adversely Affect Workers

The Central Trade Unions have already opposed the arbitrary decision taken by the government to tinker with 40 labour laws and reducing these laws into 4 codes, it added.

Today in the Physical meeting convened by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the ten Central Trade unions have categorically stated that when the Central Trade Unions have already rejected the four labour codes, the CTUO's are not in a position to discuss the rules being framed on these four labour Codes.

They said that the fact is that the proposals given by the central trade unions on these four labour codes when these were put in public domain without any prior consultation and involvement of unions in drafting of these laws which was against the procedures in such matter, even those were not given any cognizance by the government.

Moreover, the draft labour codes which were posted in the public domain and the one which were approved by the Cabinet and subsequently passed in Parliament flouting parliamentary procedures and norms were totally different, they pointed out before the ministry.

The recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee on three Labour codes were also rejected by the government, the unions told the ministry in the meeting.

The government is not serious either on bipartite discussions or tripartite discussions in accordance with the International Labour Organization conventions and it is rushing to push the implementation of all these codes under pressure from the corporate and employers organisations, they told the ministry.

Also read: New Labour Codes: Top 5 Changes That Will Impact Employers And Employees

In a separate statement, RSS-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh said it has demanded protection of contract workers in the codes. According to the statement, BMS strongly objected to the exclusion of contract labour from the purview of labour codes up to 50 workers and said Codes should provide for their protection.

The BMS representatives raised the issue in the consultation meeting held by the labour minister on Wednesday with all the central trade unions.

The BMS demanded that the Code should provide that contractors should comply with ESI (employees state insurance) and EPF (employees provident fund) norms strictly. Employer's liability to pay wages, EPF, ESI and other benefits should be ensured even when one contract worker is employed, it added.

Government departments and establishments should not be exempted from the Codes, as they are increasingly engaging contract labour and temporary workers, it added.

Also read: The Unprecedented Changes To India’s Labour Laws = Social Chaos?

Similarly fixed-term employment should not be allowed to take the place of permanent jobs, it submitted.

The BMS said that from the definition of wages various allowances should not be separated, so that employees will get more benefits under EPF, gratuity, Bonus, retention allowance, subsistence allowance, retrenchment and other compensations.

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