On July 23, the Union Labour Minister tabled two bills relating to the working class in parliament. These are the Code on Wages Bill 2019 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill 2019. If parliament passes these bills, they will replace 17 existing labour laws relating to wages and working conditions.
In response to the tabling of these bills, ten Central Trade Unions have called for All India Protest actions on August 2, 2019.
A joint statement issued by INTUC, AITUC, HMS, CITU, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, LPF, UTUC and Federations/Associations of workers in different sectors said that they condemned the placing of these anti worker bills in parliament in spite of strong objections from the trade union movement. “The unions condemn the anti-worker moves of the government and call upon the workers, their unions and federations, irrespective of affiliations, to observe August 2, 2019, with countrywide united protest and raise the demand to withdraw the proposed anti-worker legislations, ignoring all norms of international labour standards”, the statement said.
The trade unions have called upon Members of Parliament to oppose this anti worker move of the government.
The trade unions have pointed out that both the Bills totally ignore the points of opposition and reservations on various provisions raised repeatedly by them. They curtail the rights of workers and are prejudicial to their interests.
The wage code bill has rejected the agreed formula of wage calculation as per the 15th Labour Conference (ILC) and add on of 25% as directed by the Supreme Court and which was unanimously accepted by the 45th and 46th ILC. The wage code bill will set the minimum wage at Rs 4,628 per month, or Rs 178 per day, whereas even the Seventh Pay Commission recommended Rs 18,000 as minimum wages in January 2016.
The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill 2019 restricts its application to establishments of ten workers and more, thus keeping 90% of the workforce which is in the unorganized sector/ informal sector, outsourced on contract and home based sector out of its purview.
The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill 2019 combines 13 existing labour laws related to different sectors of the economy.
These 13 laws — enacted during the period 1948 to 1996 — were aimed at addressing and regulating service conditions of different sections of workers, such as sales promotion employees, mine workers, beedi workers, construction workers, working journalists and newspaper employees, migrant workers, contract workers, Port and Dock workers etc. Most of these laws had been passed as a result of prolonged struggle of the workers of those sectors. These laws attempted to take care of the occupational specificities and peculiarities which are different and vary widely from sector to sector.
The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill 2019 has deliberately combined these 13 laws related to health and working conditions of workers in different sectors, with the aim of attacking the rights of workers that were proclaimed in the existing laws. Like the Code of Wages Bill, it is a bill put forth by the capitalist monopolies, in their interest.
The Communist Ghadar Party calls upon the workers of the country, irrespective of their trade union or political affiliation, to unite as one against the onslaught on their rights and interests.