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Screw the workers schemes

India: सड़म मेव जयते / Shramev Jayate and other anti labour reforms

18 October 2014

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Statement by CPM on the release of the Shramev Jayate Scheme (Oct 2014); ; excerpt from an article by Mani Shankar Aiyar and also a July 2014 video recording of Colin Gonsalves the well known lawyer explaining the proposed amendments to the labour laws in India in June 2014. [the illustration above is taken from a cartoon by the French anarchist Bob Siné]

Shramev Jayate: Interests of Investors, Not Workers

Friday, October 17, 2014

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Shramev Jayate Karyakram, inaugurated by the Prime Minister yesterday with much fanfare, means nothing much to the working people in the country.

The Universal Account Number for Employees Provident Fund Subscribers facilitating portability in case of change in employment was being worked out for the last few years. The present government has just signaled its implementation.

The main aspect of the day’s programme was, what is billed as end to Inspection Raj. This scheme involves e-filing of returns from employers and putting an end to inspection process of factories and establishments. It is well-known that despite inspections, many labour laws and social security schemes like EPF and ESI were not being implemented for large chunk of workers. The new norms will only worsen the situation and encourage further violations by employers.

All these initiatives from the government are, as they themselves have made clear, to ease the investment climate in the country.

The pronouncements on Shramev Jayate have to be seen linked with the labour law amendments already moved by government of India and by state governments in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Some more proposals have been announced by government of India, which will amend the definition of small industries removing all establishments with 40 workers out of the purview of 14 very important labour laws.

In the name of Shramev Jayate, the Modi government is acting in the interests of investors and not workers. It is also condemnable that changes in labour laws and other moves, which affect the workers, are being implemented without even discussions with the trade unions.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) fully supports the protest actions by the Central trade unions and national federations of employees against the anti-worker amendments in labour laws.

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Trade unions to hold joint protest against labour laws reforms

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Excerpt from ’Mani-Talk: Modi’s Two Self-Goals In One Week’
(Mani Shankar Aiyar is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha.)

[. . .] "Next, we have the draft labour legislation tabled in the last session and procedural reforms announced on 16 October. The intended labour reforms signal Modi’s pay-back time to the giant corporates who funded his hugely expensive election campaign. They have so infuriated organized labor that even the BJP-affiliated Bharat Mazdoor Sangh has joined its comrades in the Trades Union movement to issue a joint statement on 15 September 2014 decrying the failure of the Central Government to "push through" amendments to the relevant laws "without any consultations with them".

The joint statement explains painstakingly how "liberalizing the provisions of the Factories Act will imperil safety at the workplace (and) push the majority of factories out of its coverage". Further, the amendments proposed will result in "the principal employer and the contractor becoming unaccountable for service conditions of the workers in a large number of enterprises." Moreover, the amendments proposed for the Apprentices Act "will pave the way for the replacement of contract/casual/temporary workers, and even regular workers, by comparatively low-paid apprentices" And the end-game will be the empowerment of employers to "retrench/lay off workers at will (and) resort to mass-scale contractorisation".

Is this how Modi proposes to promote industrialisation - as growth without jobs and decent employment? To secure an answer to these and other connected questions, the country’s entire Trades Union movement is calling National Protest Day on 5 December. Modi has stirred the hornets’ nest - and the country will have to pay the price in widespread industrial unrest.

With regard to Modi’s "Shrameva Jayate Karyakram", trade unionist Gurudas Dasgupta has accused the Government of catering to the corporates so that "they can play hell." The moves are "anti-worker and pro-corporates". The CPM, for its part, has both pointed out that the Universal Account Number for EPF, which Modi is touting as his achievement, is no more than the finalisation of a programme that has long been in the works, but added that the new norms for implementation of labour laws "will only worsen the situation and encourage further violations by employers."

Prof KR Shyam Sundar of the Xavier Labour Research Institute, Jamshedpur, adds that the new procedures violate ILO’s Labour Inspection Convention no. 81 by "centralizing inspections" and "controlling inspection visits from above" and regulating "inspection timings". We are likely to be hauled up in an international forum for Modi’s rush to embrace his arch supporters. "

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Colin Gonsalves: New labour law amendment proposals show anti-labour direction of Modi sarkar